On Monday, Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo), rebel group turned opposition party declared Mozambique’s hard-won 1992 peace deal over.
“Peace is over in the country… The responsibility lies with the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) government because they didn’t want to listen to Renamo’s grievances,” Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga told Reuters news agency.
After the declaration of the end of the peace pact Renamo gunmen opened fire on a police station on central town of Maringue in retaliation for a military raid on its bush camp in central Sathundjira on Monday, fuelling fears of a return to the dark days of civil war, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
State-run Radio Mozambique quoted a police source as saying that Renamo fighters attacked the police station in Maringue, about 35km (20 miles) from Mr Dhlakama’s former base in central Sofala province.
The attack was intense, but there were no casualties, Radio Mozambique reported.
A teacher in Meringue, Romao Martins, told AFP news agency that residents had fled their homes during the assault.
Schools have also shut amid fears that the violence could escalate, AFP reports.
Mr Martins was quoted as saying “The situation is horrible here. Early this morning, armed men supposed to be Renamo, attacked and it was a mess,”.
Simmering tensions between Renamo and the Frelimo-led government erupted in violent clashes again in April this year over two decades after a bloody civil war ended.
Renamo demands more representation in the armed forces and changes to the electoral law.
Several rounds of talks between the two parties have failed. Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama said he was willing to meet with Guebuza if government forces withdrew from the former rebels' base.
Renamo has periodically threatened a return to violence after the end of the civil war, but only began acting on its threats since Dhlakama reopened his base in October 2012.
AFP reports that Renamo has failed to seize power in 15 years of war and two decades of peace and analysts say the group is too weak now to take another shot at toppling its archfoe through warfare.
Tensions between Frelimo and Renamo escalated into a civil war that was fought between 1977 and 1992.
Backed by colonial Rhodesia, Renamo was used to destabilise the Frelimo government, which supported the Zimbabwe liberation fighters.
Following Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, Renamo formed alliances with South Africa’s apartheid regime, which supplied it with arms.
More than a million people were killed during the 16-year bush war.
A Rome peace accord signed in 1992 ended the war and paved the way for multi-party elections in 1994. Renamo lost and became the official opposition party.
It garnered only 16.5% of the vote in the 2009 polls, losing to President Armando Guebuza and prompting dejected Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to threaten fresh civil strife.
Facing declining political support, Dhlakama set up camp in the Gorongosa mountains in October 2012 and initiated fresh training for former guerrilla fighters numbering no more than a thousand.
He said in November that he was willing to “destroy Mozambique” if Renamo did not get a bigger slice of the country’s growing wealth.
It demanded last year that the government renegotiate the terms of the 1992 peace accord, a plea Frelimo rejected reported the AFP.
“This irresponsible attitude of the commander in chief of the country’s security forces signals the end of the Rome Peace Accords,” said Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga, referring to President Armando Guebuza.
Mozambique government forces attacked and took over the military base of the former rebel group Renamo on Monday, the defence ministry said.
“We entered Sathundjira,” said defence ministry spokesperson Custodio Chume, after an operation at the base near central Mozambique’s Gorongosa, which Renamo also confirmed.
According to AFP reports, earlier this year, Mozambique’s army broke up another Renamo base of about 50 huts close to the country’s main north-south highway.
Renamo said it killed government soldiers but authorities claimed there were no casualties.
Independent newspaper A Verdade reported an unknown number of deaths citing unnamed sources.
BBC reports that police are said to have fled their posts after gunmen opened fire and there are no reports of casualties.
Fernando Mazanga said party leader Afonso Dhlakama had “lost control of the situation”.
On Monday, the army captured Alfonso Dhlakama’s base, forcing him to flee.
According to the BBC report from the capital, Maputo the clashes have raised fears among many Mozambicans that the civil war could resume, threatening stability and the economic boom the southern Africa state is currently experiencing.
Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza addressed rallies in central Mozambique on Tuesday, urging people to remain calm.
On Monday, defence ministry spokesman Cristovao Chume said government forces had taken control of Mr Dhlakama’s base in response to an earlier attack on an army post by Renamo fighters.
The government has repeatedly accused Renamo of trying to drag the country back to war, an allegation it denies.
A force of about 300 Renamo men has remained armed since the peace accord, despite efforts to integrate them into the army or police force.
Mr Dhlakama has said he needs his own personal bodyguards, and the men usually stay in his war-time camp in the Gorongosa mountains in centre of the country.
After the civil war ended, Mr Dhlakama moved out of the camp to live in Maputo and later in the northern Nampula province.
But he returned to the mountains last year, saying he needed to be close to his men who were feeling ignored.
Meanwhile BBC has reported that Zimbabwe has warned RENAMO not to resume war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Mutsvangwa said Renamo should rejoin the political process, not threaten regional stability.
He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme that Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama should “never, never” return to violence.
“Southern Africa will not countenance this. We simply do not need this in this region at this juncture,” he said.
He added that regional body Southern African Development Community (Sadc) would consider sending troops to help the government if the security situation deteriorated.
“It will be misguided for Renamo to bring instability and expect Zimbabwe to watch,” he said.
Mozambique is due to hold local elections in November, and presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
RENAMO was founded in 1975 following Mozambique’s independence from Portugal as an anti-Communist political organisation, sponsored by the Central Intelligence Organisation of Rhodesia.
André Matsangaissa, an ex-FRELIMO army commander, was its first leader.
By Levi Mukarati and Tendai Mugabe in Marange. ..
Thousands of Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom ..
Munesu Chigada Harare (News of the South)- ..
United kingdom. (News of The South) – ..