In the latest posting on its Web site, UNITA acknowledged the success of the government's offensive "over a wide front" and the difficulties caused by "heavy aerial reconnaissance and bombings" which had forced rebel units retreating from the central highlands to move only by night.
But the "latest indications" are that UNITA "have completed the restructuring and redeployment of its forces" and has decided to "intensify the guerrilla campaign", the despatch said. It added that local military commanders have been given "carte blanche in terms of initiating guerrilla actions".
Despite the mobility and communications problems caused by the ongoing heavy rains, the release said that units have been redeployed to Cuando Cubango Province to resist the government's offensive in the southeast, and a "significant part" of UNITA's remaining conventional capacity has been sent north of the Kwanza river between Mussende and Malanje.
The statement also claimed that UNITA managed to get a convoy of diesel tankers through from Zambia in late December, which enabled the movement of its forces towards the new front beyond the Kwanza river.
"After a series of knockings UNITA is not stabilised but is on the fight back," Angola watcher Alex Vines at Human Rights Watch in London told IRIN on Wednesday.
According to humanitarian sources, fighting continues in the central highlands around Andulo, with increased insecurity reported on the road to Huambo. Military tension has also heightened around Luzamba in the northern province of Lunda Norte, and clashes have taken place at Cuimba in Zaire Province on the Congolese border.
Contact IRIN-SA (Tel: +27 11 880 4633, e-mail email@example.com) for more information or free subscriptions.
[This item is delivered in the English service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000