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Maputo - Mozambique police on Wednesday dismissed claims by main opposition Renamo that its former fighters had killed 36 soldiers and police, as fresh peace talks collapsed yet again.
“In reality, we had one light injury in the FADM (Mozambican Armed Defence Forces) and a colleague gravely wounded who lost his life on the way to the hospital,” national police spokesman, Pedro Cossa, told state-run Radio Mozambique.
The rebel-group-turned-opposition-party Renamo claimed in a statement on Tuesday that its fighters had killed 36 security forces in a fresh outbreak of violence.
It said the killings had occurred in two separate clashes in the central province of Sofala, a region where unrest flared earlier this year, more than two decades after the end of a brutal civil war in the southern African country.
Police said there was an exchange of gunfire between one of its mobile patrol teams and armed men.
Tensions have been simmering between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party, former foes who signed a peace deal in 1992
following 16 years of civil war shortly after independence from Portugal.
But observers say Renamo could be upping military tensions as a tactic to pile pressure on the Frelimo-led government amid political negotiations to resolve differences between the two.
The latest round of negotiations between the government and Renamo failed to end the deadlock on Wednesday.
“There was no political agreement. The impasse continued,” Renamo's chief negotiator Saimone Macuiana said at the end of talks in the capital Maputo.
Yet the government camp thought the talks marked an “important step forward”, according to Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco.
“We gave way on more than half of what Renamo asked for... The government agrees with 16 of the 19 points brought by Renamo,” Pacheco said without elaborating.
There was still disagreement over four issues on the negotiating table, he added.
Renamo has threatened to boycott November local government elections unless sweeping changes to the electoral law are made.
As well as an overhaul of the electoral system, the party wants more representation in the armed forces and a cut of revenues from Mozambique's fast-growing coal and gas industries.