UNITA Rebels Create Insecurity In Namibia

David Kasweka, PANA Correspondent
WINDHOEK, Namibia (PANA) - Three young French tourists were murdered and their two parents seriously wounded in an ambush by suspected UNITA rebels in Namibia's Caprivi region Monday, sparking widespread fears of increased insecurity in this part of the country.

The Caprivi region, scene of a short-lived secessionist fighting August, together with neighbouring Kavango region, are said to have been heavily infiltrated by UNITA, venting their anger against Windhoek for allowing Angolan government troops to launch a military campaign against the rebel movement from Namibian territory.

The murdered young children - aged 18, 15 and 10 - together with their parents were gunned down along the trans-Caprivi highway at a place called Bagani as they were travelling to Windhoek from Caprivi where they had gone to spend a site seeing millennium weekend.

The parents, Claude and Briggite Boidin, were airlifted to Windhoek Tuesday where they were admitted in one of the specialist clinics.

Doctors have described their condition as still very critical.

The incident is the latest in a millennium weekend of border incidents as suspected marauding UNITA element went on an orgy of shootings and abductions in the area.

On Friday, the rebels seriously wounded eight Namibian civilians and abducted 20 others after attacking a grocery shop at Bagani, 10 km from a Namibian military base.

They planted anti-personnel mines and landmines on their way back to Angola.

On 22 December they attacked a special field force camp, killing a sergeant and wounding three others, at a place called Mbambi, 200 km east of the Kavango regional centre of Rundu.

They also wounded a young boy after robbing a civilian house before escaping back into Angola.

Unconfirmed reports from Rundu say that the rebels, who are moving on foot randomly within the area, seem to have taken complete control, despite the presence of both the Namibian and Angolan troops in the area.

They are said to have crossed over the roughly 100 km Caprivi strip into neighbouring Botswana on the other side in a move that appears designed to launch the attacks from both sides.

Local game rangers, who have fled away from these invading enemy, say that the rebels are communicating in Lozi, a local Caprivian language, also spoken across in neighbouring Zambia.

This could ignite further fears that UNITA may be working with secessionist leader Mishake Muyongo's men wanting to secede Caprivi from the rest of Namibia.

The latest UUNITA attacks are a turn of events following an incessant pre-Christmas bombardment of the rebel positions by the Angolan troops who were using Namibian territory as their springboard, culminating in last week's capture of Jamba, UNITA's stronghold, about 60 km from the Namibian border.

Shortly before Namibia's general elections early December, UNITA had sent a strongly-worded message to the authorities, warning Windhoek that the rebels would strike a hard blow if the government went ahead to allow the use of Namibian territory as a launching pad for the Angolan troops.

Meanwhile, there is growing concern that the killing of the three French and the wounding of their parents will deal a severe blow to Namibia's thriving tourist industry, especially in the affected areas.

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