FIGHTERS from Mozambique’s main opposition party killed 45 government troops in a June 14 firefight, the group’s leader told the local MediaFAX news agency.
Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican National Resistance, or Renamo, said he ordered his forces to confront government troops 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from a Renamo base in the coal-rich Moatize district in Tete province, MediaFAX reported.
Thirty-five members of the state’s Rapid Intervention Unit died on the scene, and 10 more in hospital, he said.
Police spokesman Pedro Cossa said June 16 one member of the unit had died in the clash, with two injured. Antonio Muchanga, a Renamo spokesman, had been first to report the combat earlier that day, without giving any details on casualties.
A commission made up of the speaker of parliament and lawmakers from Renamo and the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, should investigate the violence, Dhlakama said.
If Dhlakama’s account is accurate, the clash would be among the bloodiest since a peace accord between Renamo and the government was signed in Rome in 1992, ending a 16-year civil war.
Renewed hostilities in 2013 killed at least 60 people, according to London-based Chatham House, which estimates 100 died in fighting last year.
Mozambique may become the third-biggest liquefied natural gas exporter in a decade. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Eni SpA are among companies planning gas projects to exploit fields off northern Mozambique and may decide to proceed this year.
That would trigger development that could cost as much as $100 billion, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.