In a gruesome killing spree that morbidly illustrates the ongoing election crisis in Zimbabwe, militia members apparently supporting President Robert Mugabe mutilated and killed four young men, three of whom were identified as activists for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the rival party to Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) group. The fourth happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t know Zanu (PF)’s secret handshake, so to speak.

Times Online:

Three of the men were Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth activists, defending the home of a local official from attack by Zanu (PF) youths in the sprawling dormitory township of Chitungwiza about 30 km south of Harare.

The third was a passerby, abducted because he did not know the Zanu (PF) youths’ secret slogans and salutes used to identify supporters. All of the victims had their skulls smashed, said relatives who had seen the corpses in separate mortuaries. Some had their lips and genitals cut off.

The escalation of violence came as Gordon Brown called on Mr Mugabe to admit international rights observers and the UN rights envoy for the country’s run-off presidential election on June 27.

“We will work with all countries to make sure that these elections, which are now being conducted in a spiral of violence, can be free and fair,” Mr Brown said after talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

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