HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ An opposition parliamentary candidate was beaten to death by suspected ruling party activists and a white farmer fatally shot by unknown assailants in the latest round of violence ahead of upcoming elections, officials said Thursday.

Attackers beat to death Thadeus Rukuni, a candidate for the Movement for Democratic Change, at his home in Bikita, 190 miles south of Harare, southern Masvingo province police spokesman Steady Tonde said.

The attackers were suspected members of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party who forced their way into Rukuni's house Monday, Tonde said.

Neighbors reported the attackers chanted revolutionary songs, he said.

Rukuni was to challenge local ruling party candidate Claudius Makova, a retired army colonel, in parliament elections scheduled for June 24-25.

MDC officials said Rukuni's killing _ the first slaying of an MDC candidate _ was part of a ruling party campaign to intimidate potential opponents ahead of Saturday's nomination deadline.

Unidentified armed attackers shot and killed farmer Tony Oates in his house late Wednesday 40 miles northwest of Harare, the Commercial Farmers Union said.

At least 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the election. The labor-backed MDC party is seen as the biggest threat to the ruling party at the polls since Mugabe led the nation to independence in 1980.