Zimbabwe opposition leader Tsvangirai arrested

HARARE Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:29am EDT

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested with other members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Wednesday after police stormed the party's headquarters, officials said.

Witnesses said armed riot police surrounded and then entered the building in downtown Harare where the MDC leadership had been due to hold a news conference.

"President Morgan Tsvangirai, who was scheduled to give a press conference on the escalating and systemic campaign of violence and intimidation undertaken by the (President Robert) Mugabe government in recent days, was among those taken away," the party said in a statement.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said all of the MDC officials inside the building were arrested, but it was unclear whether they had been transferred into police custody.

"Their phones are all turned off so we don't know if they are still there or at the central police station," he told Reuters.

The raid came as Mugabe was due to arrive in Tanzania for a special regional summit to address the escalating political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

The summit comes more than two weeks after dozens of opposition members, including Tsvangirai, were arrested and reportedly beaten after an aborted rally against Mugabe and his authoritarian government.

The crackdown drew sharp international protests and renewed calls for African nations to tackle Mugabe's 27-year rule over Zimbabwe, which now faces its worst economic crisis in decades along with escalating political tensions.

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