Zimbabwe PM wants probe into 12-year-old boy's death

HARARE - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday called for an investigation after a 12-year-old boy was killed in a fire-bombing in a suspected case of pre-vote political violence, his party said.

In a eulogy at the funeral of the boy, Christpower Maisiri, Tsvangirai "urged the police to arrest all the suspects in the case," his Movement for Democratic Change party said.

He said it was the government's responsibility "to protect the people, more so children."

Christpower, who was the son of Shepherd Maisiri, a senior regional official of the MDC, died on Saturday when the hut he was sleeping in with his siblings was fire-bombed in the rural town of Headlands, 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital Harare.

The MDC suspects that activists from President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) were behind the attack. No arrests have been made by the police.

The US embassy in Harare condemned the attack. The southern African country holds a referendum on a new constitution on March 16 while general elections are slated for July.

The July poll is to choose a successor to an uneasy power-sharing government formed nearly four years ago by Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

The bitter rivals were forced into a unity government to avoid Zimbabwe tipping into all-out conflict in the aftermath of a bloody presidential run-off election which claimed 200 lives in 2008.

Past elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence including killings, assault and intimidation.

There have been sporadic cases of violence in recent weeks with MDC supporters being targeted.