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Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Hundreds missing in Angola train attack
Landmine victims in Angola
Mines have claimed many victims in Angola's conflict
By Justin Pearce in Luanda

Hundreds of people are still missing in Angola after an attack on a train in which more than 90 people are reported to have died.

The train detonated an anti-tank mine which had been placed on the track, and armed men attacked the passengers who survived the explosion.

In the past three months, Unita has conducted a number of high-profile assaults in areas close to the capital, aimed at causing maximum disruption

The attack appears to be the work of Unita rebels, who have carried out a number of assaults in Northern Angola in the last few months.

The attack occurred on Friday about 150km south-east of the capital Luanda.

The train, which had been heading for the town of Dondo, apparently detonated an anti-tank mine that had been placed on the track.

The explosion caused the train's fuel tank to catch fire.

Then, as passengers tried to flee the burning carriages, armed men - believed to be from the Unita rebel movement - appeared from the bush and began firing on the passengers with automatic weapons.

Whereabouts unknown

But of the 500 people believed to have been on board the train, hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Clearing a landmine in Angola
Angola is littered with landmines
It is not known whether they were kidnapped by Unita or fled into the bush, or whether their bodies are still to be recovered from the burnt-out train.

Funerals have already taken place for about 20 of the people whose bodies were carried from the wreckage.

Nearly 150 people were injured, some of them sustaining serious burns.

They are being treated at hospitals in Luanda and in the provincial capital Ndalatando.

There are concerns that the provincial hospital may not have adequate medical supplies to treat the victims.

Rebel attacks

The 180km route between Luanda and Dondo is one of the few functioning railways in Angola, with three services a week - an economic lifeline for the provinces it serves.

In the past three months, Unita has conducted a number of high-profile assaults in areas close to the capital, aimed at causing maximum disruption.

This latest incident coincides with a visit to Angola by an American delegation which is trying to assess whether conditions are right for a general election which has tentatively been scheduled for next year.

The attack is being seen as an attempt by Unita to embarrass the government by reminding the visitors that Angola is still far from stable.

The BBC's Justin Pearce
"The location and timing of the attacks are significant"
See also:

12 Aug 01 | Africa
Angola train toll rises
26 Jul 01 | Africa
Oxfam: Angola must help citizens
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Angola
26 Jun 01 | Africa
Angola rebels attack Uige
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