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Zimbabwe Poor's Gardens Wrecked

June 22, 2005|From Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police have begun destroying vegetable gardens planted by Zimbabwe's urban poor, extending a demolition campaign that initially targeted shacks and street vendor kiosks.

Edmore Veterai, a police official, said urban farming on vacant land was causing "massive environmental damage," state radio reported Tuesday.

The crackdown -- at a time of food shortages in Zimbabwe -- is the latest escalation of Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, in which police have torched the shacks of thousands of impoverished city dwellers.

President Robert Mugabe calls the campaign a cleanup drive. Critics say the operation is meant to punish his opponents.

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