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Atrocities reported in Zimbabwe. US officials see hand of Mozambique rebels in attack on children

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The Mozambique insurgent group Renamo has launched a campaign of ``pure terror'' in eastern Zimbabwe, according to informed United States officials. The brutal attacks are aimed at stopping Zimbabwe's support for the government of Mozambique, they say. The most reprehensible incident so far, they say, was on Nov. 19 near Chipinge in eastern Zimbabwe. A school on a tea plantation was attacked. Five children were killed, 9 others had their ears and noses cut off, and 20 were kidnapped, presumably to Mozambique, the officials say.

The mutilated children were released with the warning that more would follow if Zimbabwe continues to intervene in Mozambique's civil war, a senior official says. There was no robbery involved, and all evidence suggests Renamo was responsible, officials add.

But Renamo supporters contacted here were skeptical of the report. A congressional aide, who believes the US should deal with Renamo, says it is extremely hard to say who commits such acts.

Thomas Schaaf, director of the pro-Renamo Mozambique Research Center, suggests the reported incident was part of a broader effort by Zimbabwe and Mozambique to discredit Renamo (known formally as the Mozambique National Resistance Movement). Elements in the Zimbabwe Army have committed similar atrocities in western Zimbabwe, he says.

Renamo, which is waging a militarily effective insurgency in Mozambique, announced in June that it would begin attacks in Zimbabwe, officials say. The first attacks were on economic targets, an official says.

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