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    Zimbabwe doctor found alive after alleged abduction

    HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A Zimbabwean doctor whose alleged abduction led to days of protests has been freed, activists announced yesterday, as the government asserted he had simply been missing. The disappearance had raised fresh concerns about dozens of abductions of government critics this year alone.

    President of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Peter Magombeyi was released overnight into the custody of his lawyers, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said. A police statement said he had “been found by police”.

    There were no immediate details of his condition and Magombeyi was being treated at a hospital in the capital, Harare. The government’s information ministry said police efforts to debrief him were not working “as he prefers not to speak to the authorities”.

    Over 50 government critics and activists have been abducted in Zimbabwe this year, at times tortured and warned by suspected state security agents to back off from anti-government actions.

    Magombeyi’s case led to expressions of concern from diplomats and others as some in Zimbabwe openly worried that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is becoming more repressive than that of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who died earlier this month. Mugabe was accused of using abductions to silence critics, and some have never been found.

    Magombeyi was seized after calling for a pay strike as Zimbabwe’s healthcare system collapses along with the southern African nation’s economy. This week a growing number of health workers said they would not return to work until he was found, bringing many healthcare efforts to a halt.

    Many health workers said they can no longer afford even the commute to work as their salaries are USD100 or less a month.

    Some Zimbabwean officials have blamed a “third force” linked to Mugabe for the recent abductions, asserting that they are bid to tarnish the President’s image abroad and hurt efforts to have sanctions imposed by the West removed.

    But the country’s biggest representative organisation for churches, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, has questioned the “third force” explanation, asking why only perceived government critics are being targetted.

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