Blast rocks Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rally

An explosion has struck a stadium in the city of Bulawayo where Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was addressing an election campaign rally, according to state media.

The Herald reported on Saturday that the 75-year-old president was not hurt and evacuated from the White City stadium, where he had been speaking to thousands of supporters in advance of next month’s vote.

“President Mnangagwa has not been injured and is at Bulawayo State House,” presidential spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“Investigations are under way and more details will be given to the public.”

The ZBC broadcaster later reported that Vice President Kembo Mohadi was injured in the leg and taken to a local hospital. The report could not be independently verified.

President Mnangagwa escapes assassination attempt
— The Herald Zimbabwe (@HeraldZimbabwe) June 23, 2018
Witnesses said that the blast near the VIP stage occurred as Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party, was leaving the podium after finishing his speech in Zimbabwe ‘s second-biggest city.

“We are told several VIPs have been injured and other ZANU-PF supporters have also been injured,” Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg in neighbouring South Africa , said.

“People on the ground say that people had to carry some of the injured in their cars to the local hospital in Bulawayo. Some of the injuries are in the legs and in the stomach – some are quite critical,” she added.

According to the Herald, two senior government officials were admitted to a local hospital.

Footage from the scene showed a cloud of smoke rising near the stage as medical staff rushed to treat those wounded. State TV immediately cut its broadcast.

Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November 2017 [File: Markus Schreiber/The Associated Press]
Al Jazeera’s Mutasa said police set up several roadblocks in and out of the city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold, following the explosion.

The incident came hours after a blast struck a large rally by supporters of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the capital, Addis Ababa, killing at least one person and wounding dozens of others.

Mnangagwa took power in November 2017 after longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down following a military intervention.

The July 30 vote is the first without Mugabe since independence in 1980.

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