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Zimbabwe/Violence - 2002-02-25

This is the second such incident involving foreign observers in the past three-days. Friday, South African delegates were attacked while meeting officials of Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, in the central town of Kwekwe. The Southern African Development Community group was in an official van that came under attack from rock-throwing youths. Most of the vehicle's windows were smashed and some of the officials were cut by flying glass, but no one was seriously injured. A number of other vehicles were also reported damaged in the attack. The M-D-C says that earlier one of its members of parliament, Job Sikhala, and a senior official escaped after being attacked by a group of ruling ZANU (P-F) supporters while travelling to the Chinhoyi rally. Political analysts say the town is part of President Robert Mugabe's heartland and has been one of the areas most affected by political violence. Mr. Tsvangirai is the main challenger to Mr. Mugabe in the March 9th and 10th election. A foreign observer has reported helping a man who was beaten up by youths before the rally. The leader of the observers from the Commonwealth, Nigerian General Abdusalami Abubakar, says he is determined to make sure that the mission stays strictly impartial. General Abubakar told a news conference in Harare, the Zimbabwe capital, that observers would stay on after the election to see whether the result is accepted throughout the country. General Abubakar also headed the Commonwealth delegation to the parliamentary elections in 2000. Its report that the elections were generally free and fair disagreed sharply with the European Union, which said there had been widespread intimidation and violence.