Blast hits Zimbabwe presidential rally, President Mnangagwa unhurt | Africa | DW | 23.06.2018
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Africa

Blast hits Zimbabwe presidential rally, President Mnangagwa unhurt

An explosion has rocked a stadium where Zimbabwe's president was addressing a rally. Some injuries have been reported, but President Emmerson Mnangagwa escaped harm.

 A campaign rally by Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday was disrupted by a blast that occurred after he had addressed the crowd, his spokesman said.

"There has been an incident at Bulawayo (White City Stadium) where the president was addressing a rally. This is now a police issue, but the president is safe at Bulawayo State House," spokesperson George Charamba told Reuters news agency.

He added that some people had been reported injured, and footage posted online showed medical staff rushing to the scene. State-run broadcaster ZBC later said that Vice President Kembo Mohadi was among those hurt and had been taken to a local hospital for treatment of a leg injury.

Charamba told the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, which described the blast as an assassination attempt, that there had been "multiple attempts" on Mnangagwa's life over the years.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, is a stronghold of opposition to the ruling ZANU-PF party. It was Mnangagwa's first rally in the city.

Read more:Africa in 2018: The old generation remains at the helm 

'Not my time'

Mnangagwa later said the explosive device that caused the blast went off a "few inches away from me, but it is not my time."

He told the state broadcaster that he was used to facing attempts on his life, adding that "these are my normal enemies" behind the explosion.

He had visited "several" people wounded in the attack in hospital, he said in comments on Facebook.

In a tweet, Mnangagwa called on the country to remain unified despite all political differences after "this senseless act of violence."

Upcoming elections 

Mnangagwa, 75, took power in November last year after his former ally, Robert Mugabe, was pressured by the military into stepping down after ruling the country for three decades. Elections are to be held on July 30.

The explosion in Zimbabwe came just hours after a blast in Ethiopia at a rally for the country's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in the capital, Addis Ababa, killed one person and injured more than 130 others, some seriously.

Read more:Zimbabweans hold their breath ahead of July elections 

tj/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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