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As Zimbabwe Talks Begin, Abductions Of Opposition Members Continue

Violence against Zimbabwean opposition members continued this week even as power-sharing talks got under way this week between the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC sources said Friday.

Opposition sources said soldiers and suspected ZANU-PF militia abducted two MDC drivers in the Buhera South constituency of eastern Manicaland province this week who had gone there to transport victims of earlier political violence to hospitals for medical care.

Provincial MDC spokesman Pishai Muchauraya told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that local activists sought assistance from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, but police officers told them that their hands were tied in the matter.

Meanwhile, Officials of the same MDC formation headed by Morgan Tsvangirai said they were trying to establish the identities of 60 individuals whose bodies remained unclaimed at Harare Hospital and who are believed to be opposition members slain in post-election violence.

Zimbabwe was swept by a wave of allegedly state-sponsored political violence following the March 31 general and presidential elections which yielded an opposition majority in the lower house of parliament and in which Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe. Tsvangirai dropped out of a June 27 run-off election against Mr. Mugabe over the escalating violence.

Though Harare Hospital in normal times occasionally receives unidentified bodies, MDC officials said they fear some of the bodies now in the mortuary could be those of activists who went missing in the approach to and the aftermath of the June 27 run-off election.

MDC Home Affairs Secretary Sam Sipepa Nkomo told reporter Chris Gande that it has not been easy to make identifications as some bodies have been mutilated or badly burned.

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