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16 Slain in Zimbabwe in Attack on Church Group

November 27, 1987|United Press International

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Armed dissidents slaughtered 16 church workers and their families, including two Americans, in an nighttime attack in Zimbabwe's troubled southwestern region of Matabeleland, missionaries said Thursday.

The missionaries said that four anti-government rebels attacked the Community of Reconciliation mission station near the city of Bulawayo late Wednesday.

The 16 victims, one black and 15 whites, including an American couple and an Australian, were shot and axed before their bodies were burned, they said. The victims' names were not immediately available, pending notification of their families.

The missionaries said they were asked to arrange funerals in Bulawayo for four men, six women and six children, the youngest of whom was only 6 weeks old.

Two children escaped, a 6-year-old boy who jumped through a window and fled and a 13-year-old girl who was forced to watch the massacre and was ordered to deliver a note from the attackers to authorities in Bulawayo, missionaries said.

They would not give the contents of the note.

There was no official comment on the massacre, but Home Affairs Minister Enos Nkala planned to hold a news conference on the incident today. The massacre is the worst single dissident incident involving whites since Zimbabwe became independent in 1980.

The attack follows the killing by security forces last week of dissident leader Richard Gwasela, reputed to have been involved in the murder of more than 30 people, including five whites.

Many of the dissidents claim to support opposition leader Joshua Nkomo and his Zimbabwe African People's Union, the party that soon is expected to sign a unity pact with Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

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