Zimbabwe leader says blast went off inches away

President Edgar Lungu has described the apparent bomb attack on Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the city of Bulawayo as unfortunate.

"The incident could trigger violence ahead of elections, but President Mnangagwa has done well to call for peace and calm", he said.

The country's environment minister, deputy speaker of parliament and several security personnel were also among the injured.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the state broadcaster that there have been "so many" attempts on his life in the past and that he is used to them. Violence must have no place in our politics.

Mr Mnangagwa has pledged to hold a free and fair election, inviting Western observers for the first time in nearly two decades.

Locally, the African National Congress (ANC) has condemned the detonation of the explosive device in Zimbabwe and the deadly blast that occurred at a rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"We condemn the attack at the ZANU-PF rally in Bulawayo this afternoon".

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The elections are the first in Zimbabwe since Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power.

He said several people were affected by the blast, and he has already visited them in the hospital.

Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba said: "President Mnangagwa has not been injured and is at Bulawayo State House". Mugabe later said he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa, who lived in the shadows of his former boss for almost 50 years.

Smoke fills the stage following an explosion at a Zanu pf rally in Bulawayo, Saturday, June, 23, 2018.

The president has vowed to hold a free and fair election, the first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure.

Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Vice-President Chiwenga, was also injured and pictures on social media showed the president visiting her in hospital.

It is the first such European Union mission to Zimbabwe since 2002, when the head of the team was expelled before the vote.

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