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Press Reports Say Chinese Weapons Reach Zimbabwe


Media reports say 77 tons of Chinese-supplied weapons have arrived in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, despite international efforts to keep the government there from receiving the arms.

Newspapers in South Africa and Mozambique say Zimbabwe's Information Minister Bright Matonga has confirmed delivery of the weapons.

The online newspaper Canal de Mocambique says the Chinese ship carrying the weapons unloaded in the Republic of Congo sometime after being denied entry in South Africa last month. It says the arms were then flown to Harare by a Zimbabwean freight charter airline Avient Aviation.

South African unions refused to unload the ship because of concern the weapons would be used against opponents of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Human rights groups say Mugabe supporters are beating, torturing, and killing opposition supporters ahead of a presidential runoff election June 27.

The United States had pressured southern African countries not to unload the weapons from the Chinese vessel, the An Yue Jiang.

South African officials are denying reports that President Thabo Mbeki ordered his country's navy to refuel the Chinese ship off the South African coast.

The weapons now in Harare are said to include some three million rounds of ammunition, 3,000 mortar rounds, and 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades.

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