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Zimbabwean police free bulk of detained opposition activists
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
May 27, 2007

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean police on Sunday freed the bulk of 200 youth opposition activists arrested in a raid on their party headquarters, as a police official said they were suspects in a spate of recent firebombings.

Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer representing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition members arrested on Saturday, told AFP: "They (police) have detained 41 MDC youth members out of about 200 who were arrested."

"As far as we know they have not been charged and the police say they are only being questioned," he said.

Armed police barged into a meeting at the MDC headquarters in central Harare and picked up scores of youth on Saturday, two days after Zimbabwean police extended a ban on political rallies and processions in parts of the capital.

Police spokesman Andrew Phiri was quoted on state radio as saying that the youths were suspects in a spate of firebombings across Zimbabwe, adding that they had been implicated by their colleagues during interrogation.

MDC lawmaker Paul Madzore and 31 activists are in prison on remand after being arrested in March during a police crackdown on the opposition and charged with terrorism, banditry and sabotage.

They were accused of undergoing training in neighbouring South Africa on how to make and use firebombs.

The MDC, which launched a campaign to pressure the government to release its members, said the charges were "mere fabrication."

Dozens of MDC activists including leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were detained by members of veteran President Robert Mugabe's security forces and assaulted in March after they defied the ban on rallies and tried to hold an anti-government prayer meet.

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