Zimbabwe has been wracked by violence since last month's presidential and parliamentary elections. Zimbabwe's churches have called for international help in stopping the humanitarian crisis that has developed (from CNN):
"People are being abducted, tortured, humiliated by being asked to repeat slogans of the political party they are alleged not to support," according to a statement from a coalition of Christian churches in Zimbabwe. "In some cases, people are murdered."
The church leaders said they have witnessed political violence, killings, kidnappings and torture -- and warned it would get worse without outside help.
McClatchy reports that Zimbabwe's government faced new credibility problems after a Chinese ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe's security forces was blocked from unloading in Africa and forced to head back to China:
A Chinese ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe's security forces that's been blocked from unloading in four African nations headed home Tuesday with its cargo still aboard.
The return of the vessel, the An Yue Jiang, is an embarrassment for China in Africa, where it has growing trade and political influence, and signaled new woes for Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's leader, who's fighting to retain power after disputed elections three weeks ago.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called the sale of the weapons "a totally normal transaction" and said that their attempted delivery "has nothing to do with the latest situation in Zimbabwe."
The Chinese Foreign Minister was incensed at reports that the Bush administration had exerted pressure on African governments to block the Chinese ship:
Jiang lashed out at reports that the Bush administration had pressured Zimbabwe's neighbors not to accept the An Yue Jiang in their ports, saying that China's weapons trade is miniscule compared with that of the United States.
"China takes only a small portion of the world's weapons market," she said, noting research that the United States is ranked as the world's No. 1 arms merchant, Britain No. 6 and China No. 9. "Last year, we accounted for only 2 percent of world exports while the U.S. took 30 percent, so the U.S. is the world's biggest exporter."