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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Angola swoops on diamond diggers
Illegal diamond miner
The government is cracking down on illegal diamond miners
More than 3,000 people have been arrested in recent days in a crackdown on illegal trafficking of diamonds in southern Angola, the army says.

Troops and police officers destroyed miners' huts and seized equipment and supplies, according to a statement.

It said Angolans arrested would be sent back to their home districts, and up to 50 foreigners would be expelled.

Officials say there has been a "mass influx of foreigners" in the country since civil war ended in 2002.

The army statement said the swoops - a joint army and police operation - took place in the districts of Kibala, Mussende and Libolo in Kwanza South province.

They detained almost 3,000 Angolan nationals, and 46 foreigners - including 41 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, three from Mali, one from Burundi and one from Liberia.

'Exploited resources'

Police and soldiers also destroyed 3,400 miners' huts, and seized firearms and equipment such as generators, sieves, scales and satellite phones, said the statement.

The government said on Thursday that 11,000 people had been expelled in a massive operation since December to end the "exploitation of economic resources".

It said that since 2002, when the 27-year civil war ended, Angola had seen a "massive influx of foreigners wanting to take advantage" of the country's resources.

Human rights groups have accused the government of "acts of barbarism" against those being expelled.

Angola's Interior Minister Osvaldo Serra Van-Dunem has acknowledged "excesses" by the army and police in their handling of expelled foreign diamond traffickers.

But the government has defended its operations, calling them an acts of "sovereignty in defence of the economy" for a country heavily dependent on its diamond exports for income.




SEE ALSO:
Angola expels diamond diggers
15 Jan 04  |  Africa
Scratching a living in Angola
14 Nov 02  |  Africa
'Blood diamond' scheme begins
01 Jan 03  |  Africa


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