Angola: Troops accused of killing civilians

JOHANNESBURG, 20 December (IRIN) - The Angolan army was alleged on Monday to have carried out a spree of indiscriminate along its southern border with Namibia in recent days as it flushed UNITA rebels from long-held strongholds in the area.
South African television showed footage of a number of huts reportedly burnt down by Angolan army units along the Angolan side of the Kavango river border. News reports said the troops are also alleged to have executed a number of men, women and children inside Angola, some 20 km east of the Namibian border town of Rundu.

Rundu, some which is about 800 km northeast of the capital Windhoek, is one of the areas from where the Angolan army has been given permission by the Namibian government to launch attacks against UNITA. Last week, the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Chief of Staff, Major General Martin Shalli, said there was "nothing wrong" with Namibian support for Angola. "What is wrong with that? They are our friends," he told a media briefing in Windhoek. According to media reports an estimated 1,600 Angolan troops have been deployed inside Namibia.

A spokesman for the Namibian department of foreign affairs told IRIN on Monday: "To the best of our knowledge, there has been no fighting between the Angolan parties, and that means the government and UNITA, on Namibian soil." Officials in Namibia declined further comment on the issue, saying they were monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile in a statement to IRIN, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Namibia said that there were an estimated 1,000 Namibian, and possibly Angolan citizens, being held at a military base just south of Rundu. "Most detainees were arrested on 15 December in joint operations conducted by Namibian security forces and Angolan government soldiers," the statement said.

According to the NSHR the detainees were apparently being held after they failed to produce identity documents or for producing old Namibian identity documents which were issued during the period of transition prior to independence.

Namibian news reports also said villagers in the country's northern Kavango region were fleeing their homes following the renewed offensive by the Angolan army. Reports said that the army had, early on Sunday morning launched an attack on the UNITA stronghold of Kakutji in Cuando Cubango in southern Angola.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told IRIN that UNHCR had registered 7,197 Angolan refugees at the new Osire refugee camp which is situated about 700 km south of the border.


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