One of Mozambique’s main opposition political parties has called the poisoning and ultimate deaths of at least 69 people by traditional beer a terrorist act and has demanded strong action from the government.
Another 169 people were taken to hospital after drinking a traditional alcoholic brew known as phombe in the town of Chitima, capital of Cahora Bassa district, in the province of Tete.
Staff from the Criminal Investigation Police and the State Security Service are investigating the possibility that the deaths were an act of murder.
The opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement called the tragedy a terrorist act.
The party called on the government “to clear up this crime immediately and urgently, and to present those responsible, so that justice may be done”.
Chitima is an opposition stronghold.
The tragedy began on Friday in the Chitima neighbourhood of Cawira B, where sellers and consumers of phombe usually gather, according to a report in Monday’s issue of the Maputo newspaper Noticias.
Others reports indicated that the beer had been consumed at a funeral.
Tete provincial health director Carla Lazaro said samples of the drink and the victims’ urine, faeces and stomach contents would be analysed to try to determine what had poisoned so many people.
The government has decreed three days of national mourning.