HARARE, Zimbabwe

Three missing women leaders of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC Alliance) were found dumped outside the capital Harare.

The women – youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, and MDC Alliance legislator Joanna Mamombe – were found injured and are believed to have been tortured by state security agents.

They went missing on Wednesday and were allegedly arrested by police in Harare for staging an anti-government protest.

However, police officials had denied they arrested the women.

According to MDC Alliance officials, the women were found by a roadside in Mashonaland Central Province just outside the capital.

They were admitted to a private hospital for treatment.

Their disappearance had caused much furor in domestic and international circles, with protests by Zimbabwean civil society organizations and condemnations from international rights groups and the diplomatic community.

The European Union had issued a statement urging authorities to act “in line with constitutional and legal obligations … to establish their whereabouts and well-being.”

In a tweet on Thursday, the Canadian Embassy in Zimbabwe also called on authorities “to investigate and to assist their lawyers and families locate them.”

Global rights group Amnesty International also issued a statement on Thursday, saying the three women were “arrested at a roadblock in Warren Park guarded by police and soldiers on 13 May” but “police have denied that the three are in their custody.”

Urging authorities to ensure their safe return, the group said it was “deeply alarming that the state claims that it cannot account for the three activists when they were arrested at a roadblock run by both the police and the military.”

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