Unita blamed for tourist ambush

CHRIS McGREAL, Johannesburg - Wednesday 9.00am.

THE Namibian army has accused Angola's Unita rebels of killing two French children and their adult brother in an ambush on Monday night.

Several people were wounded, including a Briton who was taken to the capital Windhoek for an emergency operation.

A group of men in combat uniform opened fire on the vehicles near a Namibian military base on the edge of the Caprivi game reserve. Two girls, 10 and 15, and their brother, 18, were shot dead and their father severely injured.

There were unconfirmed reports that two other people may also have died.

The first two vehicles, including one carrying the French family, were brought to a halt by a barrage of bullets. Both cars had been looted by the time police arrived.

The other two vehicles were carrying 14 workers with a Danish aid agency.

They were mostly Britons, South Africans and Australians returning from a holiday in Zimbabwe. Both drivers were wounded but managed to speed away.

Namibian police said that a British woman, Syma Damil, was among those taken to the capital for emergency operations yesterday.

Last week the Foreign Office advised Britons to avoid the Caprivi strip, after the Angolan army launched an offensive to dislodge Unita from its southern strongholds.

The army's chief of staff, Major General Martin Shalli, accused Unita of the killings, but a rebel spokesman blamed Angolan government soldiers.

The incident took place near a Namibian military base used by Angolan soldiers for cross-border attacks on Unita. The attacks have helped to drive the rebels from their former headquarters at Jamba.

The government claims to have secured the 750-mile border, but Unita appears able to continue its incursions.

At the weekend, about 20 civilians were abducted near Bagani, in western Caprivi, a short drive from the site of Monday's killings. Eight people were wounded, four of them seriously, in the attack.

The police again blamed Unita, saying that the attackers had planted landmines and retreated into Angola.