LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Attackers hurled firebombs into the home of an opposition figure from neighboring Malawi on Friday and killed seven people, police said, but the apparent target of the attack was not in the house.

Four of the victims were children ranging in age from two months to eight years, police said. Five people were injured, including the owner of the house, Mkwapatira Mhango.

Mhango is secretary of publicity and information of the Malawi Freedom Movement, or Mafremo, which opposes the government of Malawi's president, Kamuzu Banda.

He said the apparent target of the firebombing was Edward Chirwa, Mafremo's chairman, who had been visiting Zambia and staying with Mhango.

''This must have been politically motivated from Malawi,'' said Mhango, who was hospitalized with severe burns.

''Dr. Chirwa was here on a private visit and not to hatch a plot against the Malawian government,'' Mhango said. He said Chirwa returned to Malawi a few days ago.

An official at the Malawi High Commission, or embassy, said the Malawi government would never countenance state terrorism. The official refused to be identified.

Mhango's two wives, three of their children, and a visiting Malawian woman and her baby were killed in the attack in the working-class suburb of Kamwala, police said.

Mhango's four other children were hospitalized with severe burns, nurses said. They said Mhango's condition was satisfactory.

Police said the gang first hurled rocks through the windows of the house and then flaming firebombs.

The victims suffocated or died in the blaze that destroyed most of the bungalow.

Police spokesman Max Nkole said a motive had not been established and no one was under arrest.

Mhango has been living in exile in Lusaka for many years. He distributes propaganda against Banda's government.

Banda led the British colony of Nyasaland to independence as Malawi in 1964. All opposition parties in his tiny southern African nation are outlawed, an undisclosed number of opponents are in detention, and thousands more have fled the country.

Banda declared himself president for life in 1971, and he has survived several assassination attempts.

Mafremo, the Socialist League of Malawi, and the Congress for the Second Republic are opposition movements that have sprung up over the years and pledged to topple Banda and restore democracy.

The last leader of Mafremo, Attati Mpakati, was assassinated by unknown gunmen in the Zimbabwe capital of Harare in March 1983.