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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Family Claims Zimbabwe Forced Countryside Burial

ReutersChamisa recovering after he was badly beaten at Harare airport on Sunday.
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Government opponents said Monday that the government forced the family of an opposition militant who was shot dead by police to be buried at his rural home to avoid a planned ceremony in the capital that could have sparked demonstrations.

The government insisted, however, that Gift Tandare -- killed as police suppressed a prayer meeting organized by Zimbabwe's political opposition -- was buried in the countryside at the request of his family and that the state assisted with the funeral arrangements and expenses.

Opposition spokesman Eliphas Mokunoweshure called the government's explanation "nonsense."

Members of the opposition alleged the Tandare family was coerced by state intelligence agents into allowing the ­funeral to be held in the Mount Darwin district, 150 kilometers northeast of Harare, fearing a burial scheduled in the capital Monday would cause protests.

State television reported that most of the funeral expenses were paid by the ruling party lawmaker for Mount Darwin, Saviour Kasukuwere, a wealthy businessman. It denied Tandare's body had been seized from a funeral home.

Hundreds of mourners and democracy activists have gathered at Tandare's home in the Harare township of Glen View since his death March 11 when ­police crushed a prayer meeting in the capital.

Nelson Chamisa, aide to main ­opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was assaulted at Harare International Airport by alleged state agents wielding iron bars Sunday as he was leaving for Belgium to attend a meeting of the European Union, Africa Caribbean and Pacific Group in Brussels.