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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Unita hits Luanda power supply
Guerrilla with machine-gun
Unita fighters are using guerrilla-style hit and run tactics
By Justin Pearce in Luanda

Power supplies were interrupted in many parts of the Angolan capital Luanda after suspected members of the Unita rebel movement attacked an electrical substation in the outskirts of the city

Not since 1992 has Unita managed to stage an attack so close to the capital.

The attack took place in the early hours of the morning in Viana, 16km from central Luanda, and well within the limits of the greater Luanda area.

An explosion that damaged the substation was followed by an exchange of fire in which a soldier from the Angolan armed forces and two Unita fighters are reported to have been killed.

But one eyewitness told a local radio station that no attempt had been made to pursue the attackers.

Power has only been supplied intermittently in various parts of the capital since then, and towns up to 60km away are reported to be without electricity.

Terror

This is the first time Unita has struck within the greater Luanda area since 1992 when rebels were driven from the city after losing Angola's first and only democratic election and taking up arms once again.

Luanda streets
Unita have not struck so close to Luanda since 1992
Since then, Unita's conventional military capacity has been virtually destroyed.

But in the last six months, the rebels have managed to regroup as a guerrilla force, staging a number of attacks on towns in the north-west of the country.

Their object appears to be to sow terror in the area surrounding the capital, which is also the heartland of the ruling MPLA party.

Prior to this morning's attack, the closest the rebels had been to Luanda was when they attacked the town of Caxito, 60km away at the beginning of May.

Sanctions

Meanwhile, President George W Bush has extended United States sanctions against Unita for another year.

The White House said Mr Bush had concluded that Unita were continuing to threaten the peace process in Angola.

The sanctions, imposed in 1993, ban arms and oil sales to Unita and mean the movement's assets in the US are frozen.

See also:

27 Aug 01 | Africa
Many feared dead in Angola ambush
03 Sep 01 | Africa
Angola ambush leaves many dead
12 Aug 01 | Africa
Angola train toll rises
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Angola
19 Jun 01 | Africa
Angola's civil war in pictures
13 Jun 01 | Africa
Savimbi: No end to war
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