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Report: Torture and Forced Labor at Zimbabwe Diamond Fields

An international human rights group said Zimbabwe's police and army are forcing children and adults to mine diamond fields and torturing and beating local villagers to control access to the precious gems.

A report released Friday by Human Rights Watch accused President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of profiting from the alleged abuses taking place in the diamond fields of the eastern Marange district.

The group's Africa director, Georgette Gagnon, said security forces have turned a peaceful area into a "nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence."

Human Rights Watch said the army killed more than 200 people during the 2008 takeover of the Marange fields aimed at stopping illegal mining. It said soldiers forced miners to dig mass graves for many of the dead.

The report criticized the power-sharing government of Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for seeking international aid even as it allegedly is bilking diamond profits from government coffers.

The group is calling on the new coalition government to stop the human rights abuses and to ensure that all diamonds are properly documented and legally traded.

Human Rights Watch said it conducted more than 100 interviews with villagers, police officers, soldiers, and victims as well as others to compile the 62-page report.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.