British journalist who survived August 1 shootings breathes fire: I was there, soldiers opened fire


A British journalist Jason Burke has claimed that he survived the 1 August bloody election violence that left 6 civilians dead when the military was dispatched to restore law and order in the streets of Harare.

Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter Burke said, “Zimbabwean generals on oath deny troops shot dead 6 protesters. Which is just extraordinary. I was there, and took cover as soldiers, yes, military servicemen with automatic weapons, opened fire, then cleared streets at gunpoint.”

Burke was commenting on the statements by the Zimbabwean military Generals who are denying that the army shot any bullets directly to the protestors.

“I do not believe that any of the soldiers fired. Yes, they fired in the air, but I do not believe any could have aimed shots at the civilians. I have no reason to believe that one of the soldiers could have shot and killed those people,” said Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander Gen. Philip Valerio Sibanda, during the nationally televised hearing.

The tactical commander of the military unit, Brigadier General Anselem Sanyatwe, told the commission he suspected militant opposition activists who deserted from the army could have shot at protesters, a claim repeated by Sibanda.

When presented with a photo of a kneeling soldier who appeared to be aiming at protesters, Sanyatwe said “the man took that position because he was avoiding missiles that were being thrown at him.”

Jason Burke is the author of several non-fiction books. He is a correspondent covering Africa for The Guardian, he is currently based in Johannesburg, having previously been based in New Delhi as the same paper’s South Asia correspondent.

— Bulawayo24

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