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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Angola silent over Zambian charges

Zambia will not allow Angolan cross-border incursions
The Angolan government has refused to comment on claims by the Zambian government that Angola's armed forces are launching cross-border attacks in Zambian territory.

We will have no alternative but to defend our people

Zambian Defence Minister Chitalu Sampa
The Zambian defence minister Chitalu Sampa, said on Wednesday that his government was concerned about the attacks and had lodged a complaint with the Angolan embassy.

Mr Sampa listed recent incidents, and said that in mid-April, eight Angolan aircraft had violated Zambian air space in north-west province.

A week later, 60 Angolan soldiers were discovered by a Zambian patrol at Nguvu, 20 km from the border.

"The Angolan troops fired upon Zambian troops on patrol in the area, resulting in the death of one Zambian soldier and injured three others," he said.

Jonas Savimbi
Some reports suggest that some influential Zambians are sympathetic to Unita
The Defence Minister also alleged that Angolan aircraft had violated Zambian airspace in northwestern Mwinilunga district.

"The aircrafts were on their way to UNITA targets in Kavungo and Kaindu areas in Moxico province in Angola," Mr Sampa said.

He said the attacks have been accompanied by looting, banditry, abductions and theft and the Zambian government has lodged a complaint with the Angolan embassy in Lusaka.

Angolan silence

However, neither Angola's defence nor foreign ministries have commented on the allegations.

But one military source has told the BBC correspondent in Luanda, Lara Pawson, that Angolan troops have been active inside Zambia for weeks.

He said it is the task of the chief of staff, General Joao de Matos, to comment on the matter.

Relations between Zambia and Angola have for years been tense.

Although Zambian president Frederick Chiluba has publicly stated his government's full support of the Angolan government's war against UNITA, privately, he's refused to take sides.

Unlike Namibia, Zambia has never allowed Angolan troops to operate from within Zambian soil.

Earlier this year, Zambia turned down a request by Angola to allow Angolan troops to launch attacks against UNITA rebels from within Zambian soil.

A Zambian diplomat says there are two reasons for the refusal: first, many influential Zambians privately support UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi - secondly, the Zambian government cannot afford to engage in a war against either UNITA or the Angolan government.

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See also:

03 May 00 | Africa
Angola food trucks ambushed
26 Apr 00 | Africa
UN: Angola is on the brink
21 Apr 00 | Africa
Unita dissidents reject the war
29 Jan 99 | Angola
Landmines: War's deadly legacy
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