Angola

Angolan rebel kill over 100, catholic radio says

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By Colin McClelland

LUANDA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Angolan rebel forces killed more than 100 people near the central highland city of Kuito last week, a private Catholic radio station reported on Tuesday.

The attack occurred at Chicandula, a village in Chinguar township in the province of Bie about 600 km (380 miles) southeast of the capital Luanda, said Radio Ecclesia, citing independent sources.

"An undetermined number of UNITA soldiers entered the northwest of the province and killed more than 100 people," the radio station said in a report.

"In Kuito they are continuing to register people where the populations of the localities of Chinguar and Camacupa arrive daily looking for security," the report said.

The radio report could not be independently confirmed.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by veteran guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, has waged a see-saw war for the past 25 years against the Luanda government.

A shaky 1994 peace deal crumbled in December 1998 when the government launched an offensive against Savimbi which was quickly repulsed by UNITA forces.

REBELS HAVE SUFFERED SETBACKS

But in recent months the rebels have lost several bases captured during a fresh government offensive launched in September. The fighting has pushed UNITA to the far south and east of this nation of 12 million people in southern Africa.

Zambian officials have reported that hundreds of Angolan refugees daily are fleeing east into Zambia to escape the war.

Angolans number some 160,000 of a total of 200,000 refugees in Zambia, which is also a sancturary from conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The U.N. Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss Angola and receive a report on the country from the U.N. sanctions committee chairman Robert Fowler.

Fowler, a Canadian diplomat, said last week he found evidence during a recent week-long tour of Angola that embargoes were cutting into the UNITA rebels' diamonds-for-arms trade.

The Luanda government relies on oil revenue -- Angola is the second leading sub-Saharan oil producer -- to fund its war effort, while UNITA depends on revenues from diamond mining areas it controls.

U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan said on Monday the humanitarian situation remained "extremely alarming" in Angola.
Annan said two million people have been displaced by the conflict and that 42 per cent of children under five years of age were either severely or moderately underweight.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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