Zimbabwe rally blast injured 41: minister

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Two people died and 49 were wounded when a bomb exploded at an election rally in Bulawayo Saturday in what is thought to have been an attempt on the life of Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is telling a rally outside the capital that the blast that went off in a VIP tent seconds after President Emmerson Mnangagwa stepped into it will not stop the historic July 30 election.

"That act of terrorism in Bulawayo is nothing". A security officer had to have a leg amputated, presidential spokesman George Charamba said.

Zimbabwean authorities said Saturday's explosion in the southern city of Bulawayo was an assassination attempt against President Mnangagwa.

Mr Mnangagwa took over the Presidency last November, following the resignation of Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.

Opposition leader Chamisa expressed sympathy for the victims of the blast and said no stone should be left unturned in the police investigation.

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Mnangagwa adopted most of Mugabe's security and bureaucratic system, fearing a complete overhaul, which the military had sought, could cause instability in government and cost him votes.

"While the majority of the nation is united behind this dream, there are those who feel threatened by the steps we are taking, they do not want the open and progressive Zimbabwe we are thriving for".

State media also reported that the ZANU-PF party secretary in charge of political organisation, Engelbert Rugeje, was injured, as were several security personnel. "Until the investigators pronounce themselves and present the evidence for arrest and prosecution, no one should ascribe motive or blame". He added: "I can assure you these are my normal enemies".

The blast came as Zimbabwe prepared to hold its first post-Mugabe presidential election on July 30, with 75-year-old Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the main contenders.

Elections in Zimbabwe have been marred in the past by violence and charges of electoral fraud.