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Maputo - Mozambique's government accused revived rebel movement Renamo Wednesday of attacking a coal train belonging to Brazilian miner Vale, as a simmering conflict struck a vital artery of the country's economy.
“Renamo shot at a train transporting coal and hit the driver in the leg,” deputy interior minister Jose Mandra said on state-run radio, describing the attack in central Sofala province late Tuesday despite peace talks between the parties.
But the movement, which is also the southern African country's main opposition party, denied attacking the strategically important Sena railway line used by foreign mining companies.
“Since this conflict began Renamo has never attacked the Sena line. Why would we, today when we are reaching an agreement... attack the Sena line?” Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchunga told AFP in the capital, Maputo.
Renamo last year threatened to carry out strikes against key installations, including the Sena line which transports coal from the north-western Tete province to the coastal port of Beira.
It frequently denies allegations it has been involved in unrest.
Muchunga claimed the Frelimo-led state attacked the railway itself to discredit their opponents.
“This attack was perpetrated by the forces of the government,” he said, reiterating the party's much-used counter-accusation against the government since their conflict was reignited in 2012.
The attack, at around 09:00 pm local time (1900 GMT) Tuesday night, took place between the towns of Muanza and Dondo in central Sofala province.
The injured driver managed to reach the city of Beira after uncoupling most of the wagons. Authorities had since retrieved the remaining wagons, according to the deputy interior minister.
“This was an effort to destabilise the country,” Mandra claimed.
The attack took place as negotiators from Renamo and the government continued to hold talks aimed at easing tensions in the capital Maputo and appeared close to reaching agreement on a ceasefire.
Local media have reported a series of military skirmishes in Sofala province over the past week.