Rebels Active in Central Angola

LUANDA (March 21) XINHUA - The Angolan rebels have stepped up their guerrilla activities in central Angola in the past month, destabilizing the situation in provinces of Huambo and Bie and interrupting relief operations for refugees, state media reported on Tuesday.

Rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) launched small scale actions, such as attacking villages, killing and kidnapping officials, destructing bridges and communication facilities, and laying landmines on roads.

The Angolan government forces have made counter offensive by reportedly killing 15 rebels in Huambo and wiping out a secret UNITA base near Chiunbo.

However, tension came back to the central provinces as the rebels penetrated frequently.

The number of refugees remained at 280,000 in Huambo City and 230,000 in Kuito City because the refugees feared to return home.

The World Food Program and other international relief agencies have suspended or reduced aid to refugees since the aid convoys came under attack and ran into mines.

The government troops launched all-out offensive against UNITA stronghold in central highland last September, crushing most of its regular army and evicting the rest to remote bush areas in east and south of the country.

Meanwhile, UNITA said on Tuesday it had killed 827 government soldiers during clashes in recent days in the southwest African country.

In a statement issued in Lisbon, the rebel group said it had captured two diamond mines in northeast province of Lunda Norte.

Copyright (c) 2000 Comtex Scientific Corporation
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/21/2000 15:03:21