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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 15:22 GMT
Zambian troops kill 10 Angolans
Angolan refugees
Angolans conflict has sent thousands across the border as refugees.
By Richard Lee in Lusaka

Zambian soldiers patrolling the border in Western Province have killed 10 Angolans, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said.

President Frederick Chiluba
Chiluba could not say when the shooting happened

Speaking during a campaign tour of the Copperbelt region on Thursday, Mr Chiluba did not say exactly where and when the incident took place.

But he stressed that the two countries were not at war and that patient negotiations would resolve the crisis.

The latest revelations came as Angola's special envoy, the deputy foreign minister, George Chikoti, announced the holding next week in Lusaka of a meeting to discuss the border crisis.

He had been sent here to pass on the condolences of Angola's president over the killing of seven Zambians a fortnight ago.

Caught in crossfire

Speaking at Lusaka airport prior to his departure on Thursday, he said investigations were continuing.

Fighting between government forces and Unita rebels had recently intensified in eastern Angola, the envoy said, adding that it was possible that the Zambian civilians, including a teacher and two village headmen, had been caught in crossfire.

He also took the opportunity to refute recent media reports that Angolans were demanding, or had indeed seized, any Zambian territory.

Like President Chiluba he also gave the assurance that the two countries were not at war.

Lots to discuss

Indeed, the Angolan and Zambian authorities are doing their utmost to play down the bloody violence along the border in an attempt to shore up their improved but still fragile relations.

When the two countries meet next week Monday to Wednesday there will certainly be a lot to discuss, including the fate of at least 20 abducted Zambian civilians.

President dos Santos
Angola and Zambia are meeting to sort out border insecurity

They were picked up during the first major incursion two weeks ago and nothing has been heard of them since.

On top of that, there are the persistent reports of Zambian women being raped and the fact that Zambia is reportedly holding two senior Angolan army officers.

The two sides may not be at war but at the moment the border region is certainly going through a pretty violent kind of peace.

Swift action is needed to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Africa
Angolan envoy summoned in Lusaka
12 Nov 01 | Africa
Angolan troops abduct Zambians
09 Nov 01 | Africa
Angola warns new conscripts
01 Nov 01 | Africa
Signs of peace in Angola
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