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About 200 Zimbabweans Seek Refuge at US Embassy in Harare


U.S. officials say about 200 people are seeking refuge outside the American Embassy in Zimbabwe.

A State Department spokesman, Bill Strassberger, tells VOA the people came to the embassy after being forced out of the headquarters in Harare of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He says embassy staff are contacting humanitarian groups to see what can be done to help them.

The request for refuge follows word from Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday that political violence is continuing against supporters of his MDC coalition.

In the week since Zimbabwe's presidential runoff vote, Tsvangirai said nine people were killed and many more were beaten and forced to leave their homes. The opposition leader had pulled out of the election because of violence directed at his supporters, leaving President Robert Mugabe, the sole candidate, to declare himself re-elected.

The United States has put a draft resolution before the U.N. Security Council calling for new travel and financial sanctions against the Mugabe government.

A copy of the draft obtained by VOA calls for freezing the assets and restricting the travel of President Mugabe and 11 of his top officials. The proposed resolution also would expand an arms embargo against Zimbabwe's government.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, says the resolution also would help Zimbabwe's populace by removing obstacles to deliveries and distribution of humanitarian assistance. Khalilzad says he expects a vote on the resolution next week.

U.S. State Department officials say the people seeking refuge outside the American embassy are not in danger, and that the situation is peaceful. They are believed to be the last of some 2,000 people who were forced to leave temporary shelter at the MDC headquarters, also known as Harvest House.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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