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Zimbabwe Pledges Atrocity Funds

November 20, 1999

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Zimbabwe’s president has promised traditional chiefs he will establish a committee to consider compensation for atrocities committed by his troops in quelling a rebellion in the 1980s.

As many as 20,000 civilians died when President Robert Mugabe’s troops tried to crush the 1982-1987 rebellion in Matabeleland province by 200 guerrilla fighters of the minority Ndebele tribe.

Mugabe told tribal leaders gathered at Ntabazinduna, near the provincial capital Bulawayo, that he needed to ``establish the facts,″ the state-controlled Herald reported Saturday.

Last month Mugabe ordered provincial officials to prepare compensation claims for the victims of army atrocities. However, it was not clear how the government _ which is mired in an economic crisis _ would pay for compensation to the tens of thousands of potential claimants.

Mugabe has suppressed two reports he commissioned on the atrocities.

Amnesty International, human rights lawyers and church leaders have accused the army’s North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, Central Intelligence Organization and Presidential Guard of executing, torturing, beating, raping and abducting suspected opposition supporters during the Matabeleland rebellion.

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