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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Children kidnapped from Angolan church
People voting for peace in a campaign of the Catholic Church in Angola
A majority of Angolans are Christians
By Justin Pearce in Luanda

The Catholic Church in Angola has announced that 12 children are missing after being abducted during a church service.

Bishop Pedro Luis told the Angolan Catholic radio station that the children included girls and boys between the ages of seven and 14.

He did not say who had kidnapped them, but the radio station blamed the attack on Unita rebels.

Unita rebel
Government army claims they have flushed out rebels seem empty

After the last large-scale kidnapping from the town of Caxito in May, the rebels released the children, saying the abduction had been a mistake.

The government media and Unita itself have so far made no comment on the incident which occurred on Sunday.

Hit and run assault

The children were kidnapped in the north Angolan town of Quiluenge in the Kwanza Norte province, an area where the army, a few days ago, claimed it had destroyed the last rebel bases.

In the last few months, the rebels have been carrying out hit-and-run assaults using portable weapons and keeping almost constantly on the move.

Frequently, the army will expel the rebels from one area, only to see them re-emerge elsewhere.

But what is unusual is that a church was targeted in this latest attack.

Previously, Unita, for one, has tended to leave the Catholic Church alone.

See also:

26 May 01 | Africa
Rebels free children in Angola
25 Sep 01 | Africa
Unita hits Luanda power supply
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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