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Hundreds of Mozambicans cross into Malawi to flee fighting

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) — Hundreds of Mozambicans have fled into neighboring Malawi after renewed fighting between government troops and fighters loyal to the opposition party Renamo, officials from both countries said Monday.

Nearly 700 Mozambicans from the country’s northern region crossed into Malawi’s Mwanza district two weeks ago, Malawian district commissioner Gift Rapozo told The Associated Press.

“Their homes were torched and most of them had nothing so they had to run away,” he said. Rapozo said the refugees were all considered civilians for now.

District officials counted 678 Mozambican refugees, more than 400 of them children, said Rapozo. There were reports of more Mozambican citizens still entering the country.

Renamo fighters carried out two attacks in the northern Tete province, violating a peace agreement signed last year before the general elections, said Mozambican Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, the government’s chief negotiator with Frelimo.

Renamo’s chief negotiator Simon Macuiane said the government must provide proof of the attacks, accusing government troops of violating the peace accord first.

The Mozambican government, run by the ruling Frelimo party, and Renamo fought a bloody civil war from 1977 to 1992. After more than 20 years of peace, fighting broke out between the government and Renamo las year in northern Mozambique. A peace accord was signed in September last year.

Frelimo has ruled the country since independence from Portugal in 1975, but Renamo is urging an independent government in the north where it has support.

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Associated Press writer Lynsey Chutel reported from Johannesburg.

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