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More Post-Election Violence In Zimbabwe; Army Denies Responsibility

Incidents of post-election violence continued Thursday in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central Province, one of the worst-hit areas, as an estimated 300 members of a youth militia affiliated with the ruling ZANU-PF party went on a rampage in the mining town of Shamva, destroying the homes and property of suspected opposition backers.

Sources in the Mashonaland Central said homes were either burned down or razed inside the Shamva mine compound and the nearby township of Wadzanayi.

In Harare, meanwhile, a Zimbabwean army spokesman countered reports that the military was supporting and participating in the spreading violence.

Army Major Alphios Makotore, a public relations officer, issued a statement saying the army "categorically distances itself and any of its members from such activities."

He referred to "articles being published in the print and the electronic media on allegations relating to the alleged political violence, assaults, harassment and robberies perpetrated by men in army uniforms."

Human Rights Watch has accused the army of being "responsible" for the violence, saying it was providing arms and transport to the war veterans and ZANU-PF youth militia accused of carrying out numerous - and increasingly deadly - attacks.

An opposition spokesman dismissed the army statement, saying that the Movement for Democratic Change has compiled a list of officers implicated in the violence.

In Manicaland Province, self-styled liberation war veterans early Thursday assaulted members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Makoni South constituency, Ward 8, local sources said.

Manicaland sources said ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika visited Nyazura visited the province Thursday and told supporters in Nyazura that opposition members must surrender to ZANU-PF or leave the area. VOA was unable to reach Manyika for confirmation of his comments or comment on the allegations.

Eyewitness Zakonda Chanyo of Shamva, Mashonaland Central, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that youth militia threatened to come back Thursday night to finish off opposition members living in the area.

Meanwhile, victims of a deadly attack on four villages in the Chiweshe area of Mashonaland Central in the night of Monday to Tuesday that left 11 dead described watching helplessly as a ZANU-PF militants battered one of their neighbors to death with a heavy branch cut from a tree, as correspondent Sylvia Manika reported.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, the Justice for Agriculture Trust, an amalgamation of the Zimbabwean organization Justice for Agriculture and the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe told journalists in a news conference that the mounting violence has displaced some 40,000 farm workers.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...