Zimbabwean pro-democracy activists were assaulted and abducted this morning ahead of a planned demonstration dubbed #MunhuWeseMuRoad.
Sources on the ground, who could not be identified for fear for their safety, told IBTimes UK that men abducted and beat half a dozen activists who had been calling for Zimbabweans to gather and protest in the capital Harare on Friday (18 November).
Prominent political activists Patson Dzamara, Ishmael Kauzani and Sten Zvorwadza, who were shuttling from one safe house to another, were reportedly ambushed by between 12 and 14 men in three twin-cab vehicles. According to the sources, several of these men were wearing police clothes, while others were plain clothed.
Dzamara and Kauzani's vehicles were blocked and one was rammed into a ditch.
"As [the activists] were running out of the vehicles, the men started beating them up, took Patson and shoved him into another vehicle and continued to beat up the other guys," activist Promise Sande confirmed.
Kauzani claimed that several rounds of bullet shots were fired as the activists tried to run away. Zvorwadza and Kauzani, whose car was torched, were "badly beaten" but both men managed to escape, sources confirmed. Another activist who was in the vehicle with the movement leaders was reportedly missing a front tooth.
Sande alleged that uniformed men "tried to shove some of the guys [activists] into the burning cars."
Dzamara, whose brother and activist Itai Dzamara disappeared while protesting against the Zimbabwean government in March 2015 and has been missing since, was taken away and was only later located at Avenues Clinic on Mazowe Street in Harare. "He is quite badly beaten, on his back, but not severely injured," the source said, after speaking to Dzamara.
Three activists were still missing at the time of writing.
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party, which has been in power since the country gained independence from the UK in 1980, has repeatedly repressed political opponents and is accused of mass atrocities against civilians to consolidate power.
The Zimbabwean government could not be reached for comment.