Zimbabwe's government says a U.S. envoy lucky not to have been killed

Zimbabwe's government said on Friday a U.S. envoy who was briefly detained after entering a security zone near President Robert Mugabe's residence would have been "a dead man" if the incident had happened elsewhere.

Zimbabwe state television reported on Thursday night that U.S. ambassador Christopher Dell was held by the Presidential Guard on Monday after he entered a restricted zone at the National Botanic Gardens near Mugabe's official Harare residence, ignoring "no entry" signs, on what the government says was a "mission to provoke an unwarranted diplomatic incident".

In a statement published by state media on Friday, Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said Dell -- who was unavailable for immediate comment -- had undertaken a dangerous "adventure".

"The ambassador must consider himself very lucky that he is dealing with a professional army that the Zimbabwe National Army is," he said. "Elsewhere, and definitely in America, he would have been a dead man. His adventure is really dangerous," he added.

A U.S. State Department official said on Thursday the department was looking into reports of an incident involving the ambassador and was trying to ascertain exact details before commenting further.

The Zimbabwe government said it sent a letter of protest to the U.S. embassy over what it called "a calculated disregard of the rules governing relations between states ... clearly intended to provoke an unwarranted diplomatic incident", reports the Reuters. I.L.

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