June 29, 2018 / 7:23 AM / 6 months ago

Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa says grenade caused blast at rally last week

FILE PHOTO - President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a ceremony at the Hwange Hydropower expansion project in Hwange, Zimbabwe, June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said a grenade caused the explosion that killed two people at a campaign rally he was addressing last week, a state-owned newspaper reported on Friday.

Dozens were injured by the blast, which took place on Saturday in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, where Mnangagwa was campaigning before elections next month.

The injured included Vice President Kembo Mohadi and the ruling party’s national chairman, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, a cabinet minister, who were taken to South Africa for treatment, Mnangagwa

Mnangagwa told reporters during an official visit to Tanzania that shrapnel had pierced Munchinguri-Kashiri’s chest, but she was recovering well at a South African hospital.

“You might be aware about events that took place Saturday when a hand grenade was thrown at me. But since you see me here, it means I am now fine,” Mnangagwa was quoted saying by the Herald newspaper.

Investigators from the police, army and national intelligence agency are still going through evidence from the Bulawayo stadium.

Mnangagwa suspects a defeated faction from his own ZANU-PF party linked to the wife of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, was behind the attack. Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a de facto coup in November.

Mugabe, accompanied by his wife Grace, is in Singapore for medical treatment and holiday, according to a senior government official who is aware of the couple’s movements.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, told Reuters on Wednesday that he feared the government could use the grenade attack as an excuse for a crackdown on opponents, which Mnangagwa denied.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, editing by Larry King

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