from the UKINdependent
Chinese troops have been seen on the streets of Zimbabwe's third largest city, Mutare, according to local witnesses. They were seen patrolling with Zimbabwean soldiers before and during Tuesday's ill-fated general strike called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Earlier, 10 Chinese soldiers armed with pistols checked in at the city's Holiday Inn along with 70 Zimbabwean troops.
One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: "We've never seen Chinese soldiers in full regalia on our streets before. The entire delegation took 80 rooms from the hotel, 10 for the Chinese and 70 for Zimbabwean soldiers."
Officially, the Chinese were visiting strategic locations such as border posts, key companies and state institutions, he said. But it is unclear why they were patrolling at such a sensitive time. They were supposed to stay five days, but left after three to travel to Masvingo, in the south.
China's support for President Mugabe's regime has been highlighted by the arrival in South Africa of a ship carrying a large cache of weapons destined for Zimbabwe's armed forces.