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Zimbabwe: 11 youths abducted from displaced persons camp

At least a dozen armed men who are believed to be linked to the ruling ZANU-PF party in Zimbabwe have attacked an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp and abducted 11 young people who were keeping watch, said Amnesty International.

The attack happened in the early hours of 7 July at Ruwa Training Centre, approximately 25 km east of the capital, Harare.

The men – who were masked and in military fatigues – stormed into the camp and attacked the men who were sleeping in one room and the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who were sleeping in another room. At least five Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and three men were treated in the clinic for serious injuries.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International said:

“Insecurity and turbulence is still extremely high across Zimbabwe.

“Hundreds of people forced to flee their homes in fear of violence, and even if they reach the camps that are supposed to be a safe haven, they are still at risk of being abducted, tortured or killed.”

Around 400 people are currently sheltered in the Ruwa camp after most had their homes burnt down during the political violence that followed the 29 March general elections.

Sources in the camp have told Amnesty International that the 11 youths have not been seen since the attack. MDC supporters abducted by similar gangs have been tortured or killed.

Amnesty International’s spokesperson continued:

“We are particularly concerned for the safety of these 11 young people and we would urge the police to thoroughly investigate their suspected abduction.”

Two and a half hours after the attack, a senior police officer identified only as the "DISPOL" (District Police Commanding Officer) for Harare district went to investigate. According to an eyewitness, he spoke only to the injured people at the clinic, not the eyewitnesses.

The government promised to provide adequate security through the Department of Social Services. But in the past residents of the IDP camp had complained about the inadequate security at the camp.

Outsiders are able to easily get into the camp without proper security checks, including suspected "war veterans" from surrounding areas known to have attacked real or perceived supporters of the MDC. On the day of the attack there was only one police officer on duty providing security for the camp.

On 29 June men believed to be members of Zimbabwe's secret service, the Central Intelligence Organisation, came to the area and demanded to speak to leaders of the camp. About three days later other people believed to be from the police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) came and made a video recording of the camp’s inhabitants.

Riot police have now surrounded the IDP camp, after people in the camp disarmed a CID officer when he entered and started searching in one of the rooms on 8 July. An eyewitness told Amnesty International that the officer had tried to fire a gun when he was confronted.

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