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Britain Suspends Deportation of Zimbaweans

Britain is suspending the deportation of Zimbabwean asylum seekers amid concern about election-related violence in the southern African nation.

British Home Secretary David Blunkett says no one will be sent back to Zimbabwe from Britain, at least until after the March presidential election.

Mr. Blunkett said he is acting because of what he called the "worsening situation" in Zimbabwe, where attacks are increasing against opponents of President Robert Mugabe.

Mr. Blunkett said he hopes the move will ease the tensions of Zimbabwean asylum seekers who have a genuine fear of repression under the Mugabe government.

The home secretary, who oversees British immigration policy, had been under pressure to revise the rules.

Human rights groups and leading politicians had called for an end of deportations to Zimbabwe because of fears that those sent back could face arrest or attack.

In another development, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has condemned President Mugabe's crackdown on the news media. Mr. Straw said Zimbabwe's move to outlaw criticism of Mr. Mugabe is the sort of action typically carried out by a dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Britain's Financial Times newspaper has reported on efforts by the United States and Britain to identify foreign bank accounts held by Mr. Mugabe and his close associates.

The action comes as the United States and the European Union consider economic sanctions targeted against the Zimbabwean leader and his inner circle.