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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 23:40 GMT 00:40 UK

World: Africa

Terreblanche accepts bomb guilt

Pretoria was one target in the AWB bombing campaign

The leader of the white supremacist Afrikaner Resistance Movement in South Africa, Eugene Terreblanche, has accepted responsibility for a bombing campaign just before the country's first mixed race elections in 1994.

In a written statement to a hearing of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mr Terreblanche said: "As political head of the AWB, I accept political and moral responsibility for the acts that have been committed."

[ image: The firebrand right-winger admits moral responsibility]
The firebrand right-winger admits moral responsibility
His admission was read out at the hearing which was considering amnesty bids from 10 members of his movement serving jail terms for their part in bomb attacks intended to derail the 1994 elections.

The bombings in Johannesburg and Pretoria killed more than 20 people, most of them black.

Mr Terreblanche said that as the political leader of the movement he had a moral responsibility, and many of his speeches at the time could have been interpreted as orders to his supporters.

A BBC correspondent in Johannesburg says Mr Terreblanche, 54, is one of the few political leaders in South Africa to have accepted personal responsibility for inciting violence and intimidation in the dying months of the apartheid era.

Supporters of Mr Terreblanche say he has taken an honourable step in admitting his personal responsibility for the campaign of violence.

Robert van Tonder: "Commission biased against right-wingers"
One ally, Robert van Tonder, told the BBC that the AWB leader had decided to make a public statement about his role in the violence campaign because of accusations that he is not supporting his party members who are giving evidence to the Truth Commission.

They say it is in stark contrast to the position of many senior politicians from the National Party, most notably the former president, P W Botha, who has been resolute in his refusal to apologise or admit responsibility for any role in political crimes committed during the apartheid era.

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