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Two Journalists Escape Siege in Northern Zimbabwe by Militants - 2002-08-14


Two journalists have escaped from a besieged farm in northern Zimbabwe after ruling-party militants trapped them inside for hours. One of the journalists is Peta Thornycroft who reports for Britain's Daily Telegraph and for the Voice of America.

A spokeswoman for the Justice for Agriculture group said Precious Shumba and Peta Thornycroft escaped after about five hours under siege on a farm in Bindura, about 100 kilometers north of Harare.

Mr. Shumba works for the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily paper.

He told a Daily News editor roughly 120 militants surrounded the farm as the owners packed to leave. The editor calls it mindless violence.

The Justice for Agriculture spokeswoman said the war veterans had offered to let Ms. Thornycroft go, but she refused to leave without Mr. Shumba because she believed he would be in danger.

The Daily News editor said the militants had demanded that Mr. Shumba accompany them to the local office of the ruling party, ZANU-PF.

Justice for Agriculture said the police were contacted but failed to appear. A police spokesman told the French news agency, AFP, he had no information about the incident.

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