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12 Injured In Zimbabwe Election Clash - 2002-03-09

Zimbabwean officials say 12 people have been injured in Harare, the capital, in a clash between police and impatient voters trying to cast their ballots on the first day of the closely-fought presidential election.

Officials say the incident occurred Saturday, when voters tried to force their way into a polling station in the western Harare borough of Kuwadzana.

Witnesses say voters are angry because many names have been removed from voting lists in the capital, an opposition stronghold. Thousands of people were still waiting to cast their ballots late Saturday afternoon as delays hampered voting operations.

Late Friday, police detained 12 farmers who were driving opposition election monitors to polling stations. There are conflicting reports about whether they are still being held. Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it has not been allowed to place election monitors at most voting precincts.

Longtime President Robert Mugabe faces a strong challenge from MDC candidate and former labor leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC says it expects massive vote-rigging by the government, a charge denied by President Robert Mugabe and his aides.

In Washington, the Bush administration says it is ready to take action against Zimbabwe if the voting is not free and fair. Voting continues on Sunday, but it may be several days before results are announced.