Angola + 1 more

Namibia: Government says it will back an Angolan offensive

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JOHANNESBURG, 14 December (IRIN) - The Namibian government said this week that it would back a new Angolan government offensive in its war against the UNITA rebel movement.
President Sam Nujoma told a news conference that the Angolan military offensive had been unleashed from the formally UNITA controlled region of Bailundo in to the Cuando Cubango Province which borders Namibia. Nujoma said that Angolan government troops had been targeting a strategic southern base at Jamba so as to "totally liquidate UNITA."

Meanwhile, the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Chief of Staff, Major General Martin Shalli, told journalists there was "nothing wrong" with Namibian support for Angola. "What is wrong with that, they are our friends," Shalli said. In an interview with Namibian television Shalli added that Namibia "would not hesitate" to give the go-ahead to Angolan forces to use Namibian soil to attack UNITA.

In a joint communiquÚ after a weekend summit in the namibian capital Windhoek, Nujoma, President Laurent-Desire Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, expressed their "strong support for and active solidarity with the government and people of Angola in their determined and successful military offensive against UNITA."

On Tuesday, representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told IRIN they were gearing up for a new influxes of refugees from Angola into Namibia and Zambia. Following a lull in fighting along Angola's southern borders during this month's general election in Namibia, they said field missions were in the border zones of both countries to assess the situation.

"Our refugee figures currently stand at 2,400 since November," Hasdy Rathling, UNHCR's Senior Liaison Officer told IRIN last week. He said that during the past two weeks, all 6,300 Angolan refugees camped along the border had been moved to a secure camp in Osire, 750 km south of the border.

Namibian government officials had asked Luanda to hold back with further offensives until the election was over because it feared disruptions along the border, most notably in the Northeast Caprivi Strip, where earlier this year separatists launched an attack from Angola.

Meanhwile news reports said on Tuesday that UNITA had bombed targets in northern Namibia at the weekend. According to the reports eight people had been injured, most of them civilians.

[ENDS]

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