KOREA CALLS OFF ZIM CAMP

HARARE - The North Korea football team's controversial planned pre-World Cup warm-up session in Zimbabwe has been called off following threats of protests , government sources said at the weekend.

HARARE - The North Korea football team's controversial planned pre-World Cup warm-up session in Zimbabwe has been called off following threats of protests , government sources said at the weekend.

The North Korean squad had been due to arrive in Zimbabwe today to train and play friendlies against local teams before moving on to South Africa.

But a senior source in the power-sharing government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the visit was called off after it provoked outrage among supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

North Korean army instructors in 1983 trained the newly formed Zimbabwean army brigade that went on to slaughter thousands of civilians during an insurgency in the western provinces of Matabeleland.

Reports put the numbers killed in the operation, which wound up in 1987 after the opposition entered a union with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, at between 8000 and 20000 civilians.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembe had invited North Korea to warm up in Zimbabwe in an attempt to showcase the tourist potential of the economically depressed country to World Cup viewers and visitors.

The team had initially been due to stay in Bulawayo. But Zimbabwe's government later switched the base to the capital Harare after activists in Bulawayo threatened to disrupt training sessions and games.

A senior government source from Tsvangirai's party said the visit had since been cancelled after Mzembe came under pressure from the MDC to disinvite the Koreans.

Mzembe said: "I cannot say they are no longer coming at this stage. We are still talking."

Sports Minister David Coltart, who belongs to a splinter MDC faction, said: "I do not think they are still coming to Zimbabwe for camping. I have no clue as to why they are no longer coming." - Sapa-dpa

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