The head of Zimbabwe’s air force survived an assassination attempt by gunmen who ambushed his car, official media reported Tuesday.
The reports followed accusations from the government that the opposition is training militants to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.
The opposition says such allegations are baseless, and could be a pretext for declaring a state of emergency that would give Mugabe broad policing powers.
The state-run newspaper The Herald reported that Air Marshal Perrance Shiri was wounded in the hand late Saturday as he drove to his farm northeast of Harare and was in stable condition.
Shiri is a former guerrilla leader and commanded loyalist troops who crushed an armed rebellion against Mugabe in the western Matabeland province after independence in 1980.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi was quoted in the newspaper and on state radio as saying the shooting ”appears to be a build up of terror attacks targeting high profile persons, government officials, government establishments and public transportation systems.”
He said it followed two bomb blasts in the main Harare police station and a botched bombing of a highway bridge and railroad line west of Harare last year that caused little damage.
Police have said the bombs at the police station may have been planted by disgruntled officers, possibly to destroy incriminating evidence.
The series of gasoline bomb attacks was blamed on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Several opposition activists accused of involvement were acquitted and freed by the courts.
On Monday, Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe’s justice minister, was quoted as saying he had ”compelling evidence” that MDC members were being trained in neighboring Botswana to fight. Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama has been one of the few African leaders to openly criticize Mugabe.
The opposition and Botswana dismissed the allegations.
MDC chief negotiator Tendai Biti said the allegations followed reports that Mugabe’s party was compiling a dossier of alleged threats to national security to support a state of emergency.