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Political Violence Flares in Rural Zimbabwe as Election Talk Gains Momentum

Villagers in a Zimbabwean village fought running battles at the weekend with suspected ZANU-PF activists, leaving a trail of destruction and injuries as political talk from President Robert Mugabe and his party continued to gather momentum

Villagers in a Zimbabwean rural settlement fought running battles with suspected ZANU-PF activists at the weekend, leaving a trail of destruction and injuries as political rhetoric from President Robert Mugabe and his party continued to gather momentum.

Mugabe told his party's central committee meeting Friday that he will soon be announcing the election date. Unhappy with the pace at which the country's select committee responsible for writing the new charter is moving, Mr. Mugabe threatened to dissolve parliament and call fresh polls.

The election statements, many believe, are the main reason why political violence is resurfacing in the rural communities.

In Sanyati, in the Midlands province, several people, including a pregnant woman, were seriously injured when violence broke out between Madzivaenzou villagers and the ZANU-PF activists.

Police on Monday confirmed arresting three people ZANU-PF youths in connection with the violence.

Some of the villagers were detained at the Kama Hospital and later released. The pregnant woman was allegedly attacked with a machete and is recovering at home.

Another woman was allegedly sexually attacked, but she declined to give more details to the media.

Youth secretary David Nyadani of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA's Chris Gande that the situation in Sanyati remained tense, adding the talk of elections this year is fueling the tension.

“One of the people who was attacked is still in hospital as he was hacked with a machete on the spine,” said Nyadani.

President Mugabe insists on elections this year, but Mr. Tsvangirai, who pulled out of the bloody 2008 run-off election citing violence, says the situation is not yet conducive for a free and fair vote.

He says electoral and media reforms should be implemented first in line with the Southern African Development Community guidelines and protocols governing democratic elections.