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Latest Victims Of Zimbabwe Political Violence Include Politician's Wife, Election Observer

Election-related bloodshed continued in Zimbabwe despite diplomatic moves Wednesday to restore peace, as the abducted wife of a Harare opposition city councilor was found murdered and an election observer in the provinces was reported beaten to death.

The body of Abigail Chiroto, 27, abducted Monday with her four-year-old son from her home in the Hatcliffe section of Harare, was found on Wednesday at a farm in outlying Borrowdale. Her abductors had dropped the child off earlier at a police station in Borrowdale.

Her husband, Emmanuel Chiroto of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party of presidential contender Morgan Tsvangirai, is a Harare city councilor and was informally elected mayor Sunday by his fellow MDC councilors-elect. They are in a majority but have not been sworn in due to the political turmoil that has followed March 29 national elections.

The assailants who abducted Mrs. Chiroto also firebombed the family's home, destroying it.

Emmanuel Chiroto told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a forensic autopsy will be conducted on his wife's body on Monday.

In another incident of deadly violence, assailants beat to death an election observer who had served during the March 29 elections in the Hurungwe North constituency of Mashonaland West province. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Elliott Machipisa was beaten to death on Tuesday, and his wife was in critical condition in a local hospital.

The incident came as the government heightened its rhetoric against local election observers whom it accused of promoting foreign interests and trying to influence the outcome of the presidential run-off election pitting Tsvangirai against President Robert Mugabe.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying the government has determined that some local observers have "preconceived notions" as to the desired outcome of the election. Chinamasa said his ministry received more than 50,000 applications from would-be election observers, but told the newspaper that only 10,000 would be authorized in order, he said, to ensure a smooth electoral process.

ZESN said 12 of its March 29 observers have been assaulted, 187 have been displaced and 75 have been harassed, intimidated or sustained damage to their property.

ZESN national director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told reporter Patience Rusere that the attacks and the reduced number of local observers will undermine the credibility of the run-off.

In other political violence around the country, MDC activist Julius Magarangoma of Buhera North constituency, Manicaland province, who unsuccessfully sought a house seat in March, said four people have been murdered in the constituency since last Friday.

A source in Gutu South, Masvingo, said school teacher Kenneth Mwalimu Singende of Nerupiri was killed on Tuesday by soldiers who abducted him from his home. The source said the soldiers issued instructions to local residents that he be buried on Wednesday.

Sources in Bulawayo said ZANU-PF militia Wednesday forced lecturers and students at Bulawayo Polytechnic to attend a ZANU-PF political meeting.

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