US slams diplomats' detentions in Zimbabwe
The United States blasted Zimbabwean security forces for holding up a diplomatic convoy and beating up the driver on Thursday and promised to bring the incident before the UN Security Council, the dpa reported.
"It is outrageous. It is unacceptable. And while this immediate incident has been resolved, it will not be forgotten," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
McCormack said a total of five US diplomats and two local employees were held up along with a British convoy about 40 kilometres outside of Zimbabwe's capital Harare. They were surrounded by 40 armed members of the country's security, intelligence forces and retired military personnel.
The Zimbabwean driver was forced out of the vehicle and assaulted, and the tyres on one of the two vehicles were slashed. The driver has since been released and was back at the US embassy, but McCormack could give no details on the extent of his injuries.McCormack said the country's foreign ministry had been notified of the vehicle's trip beforehand and rejected Zimbabwe's explanation that its forces had been sent to protect the group from a "mob" unrelated to the government.
"It's clearly organized. This wasn't just 40 people standing by the side of the road who decided to take this on themselves," McCormack said.
"You have an armed mob that accosts, detains a convoy, and beats one of the employees from our embassy there. That is not a random occurrence," he said.
The US planned to bring up the incident with Zimbabwean officials at an ongoing United Nations meeting in Rome and talk with other countries on the UN Security Council in New York.
"It is an example of the fact that this government doesn't know any bounds. It flouted all international convention, as well as protection accorded to diplomats accredited to their country," McCormack said.
"While we are outraged by this incident, it is really nothing compared to what the Zimbabwean people suffer on a daily basis," he added.