By- A member of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has died, while three others were arrested during a shootout with police in Birchenough Bridge following a botched armed robbery at Nehanda business centre in Bikita.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was yet to check the details.
ZNA spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore said he was not aware of the incident and could not confirm whether the man killed and the three arrested were army personnel.
But according to a police internal memorandum seen by NewsDay, the ZNA members were arrested together with four civilian accomplices.
The deceased was identified as Elliot Kandiyero (27), whose rank in the ZNA was not established, while those arrested were identified as Private James Keriphanos Makombe (22), Lance Corporal Oswald Kaseke (27) and Corporal Maxwell Kuwanda (32).
The soldiers were stationed in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.
The four civilians are Peter Chiripiwako (33), Owen Dzinduwa (26), Collius Kamuti (40) and Timothy Mawere (29).
One of the suspects, Moses Tengera, escaped during the shootout which occurred at around 8pm in Birchenough Bridge.
Police recovered a Mossberg rifle serial number 46B159, 3×12 bore live rounds of ammunition, a 24 pound hammer and a machete from the gang.
According to the memo, police reacted to a tip-off that the accused persons were intending to commit an armed robbery at Nehanda business centre in Bikita.
Following the tip-off, police arrested four suspects linked to the planned robbery and took them to ZRP Bikita, where they were interrogated by detectives from CID Homicide Harare and CID Nyanga.
The accused persons were arrested while waiting for their five accomplices who were armed so that they could carry out the robbery.
Detectives then proceeded to Birchenough Bridge business centre and spotted the accused persons who were using a Toyota Cresta vehicle registration number ADE 8291. When the police identified themselves, the accused persons bolted out of the vehicle.
Kandiyero, who was armed with a Mossberg rifle, opened fire on the police together with Tengera, who escaped while firing shots from a suspected revolver.
Police returned fire, injuring Kandiyero who was rushed to Birchenough Bridge District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Three accomplices were arrested on the scene, while Tengera escaped.