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10 Rebels Killed in Fierce Fighting, S. Africa Reports

July 12, 1986|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

PRETORIA, South Africa — Ten suspected guerrillas of the African National Congress were killed in two of the fiercest gun battles yet fought with the black insurgents, the South African police reported Friday.

Four men, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, pistols and grenades, were killed near King William's Town in eastern Cape province Friday morning, the police said.

Six others, also heavily armed and carrying large quantities of explosives, died in a clash Thursday in northern Transvaal province, about 30 miles from the border with Botswana, according to police headquarters here. A seventh insurgent escaped. A policeman was seriously wounded in that firefight.

17 Guerrilla Deaths

The deaths brought to 17 the number of suspected ANC guerrillas reported killed since President Pieter W. Botha declared a nationwide state of emergency a month ago; at least 15 others have been arrested, according to the police.

The outlawed African National Congress, the principal group fighting minority white-led rule in South Africa, has nearly doubled its armed attacks this year compared to last in an effort to launch a "people's war." According to police, the group is responsible for 14 terrorist bombings over the past four weeks.

In Soweto, the black satellite city outside Johannesburg, Zulu residents of a migrant workers' hostel fought street battles through most of Friday with hundreds of militant youths in a renewed political feud that has taken more than 45 lives over the past 18 months. As many as 1,200 were involved at one point Friday morning, according to witnesses.

Unconfirmed reports put Friday's death toll at seven--five migrant workers from the Mzimhlope hostel and two youths from the Meadowlands section of Soweto.

More Violence Likely

More violence is likely this weekend when the migrants, out of work and anxious to avenge the deaths of the other hostel residents, are likely to go on the attack, and in anticipation of that, the youths began calling for reinforcements from other sections of Soweto.

The migrants are loyal largely to Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, the politically moderate Zulu leader, and the Meadowlands youths are among the most radical in Soweto. The groups have fought frequently in the past two years, and the current clashes appear to stem from the firebomb attack on buses carrying Buthelezi supporters two weeks ago after a rally in Soweto.

But the government's information bureau, under the national state of emergency the sole official source of news on South Africa's civil unrest, said police only knew of two deaths, both of which occurred on Wednesday, when the current fighting began.

Mandela Rebuffs Briton

In Cape Town, the imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson R. Mandela said through his wife, Winnie, that he will not meet the British foreign secretary, Geoffrey Howe, current chairman of the European Communities' ministers council, when he visits South Africa on a mediation mission at the end of the month.

"I can say categorically that Mandela is not in a position to meet Sir Geoffrey at all," Winnie Mandela said after an hourlong visit with her husband at Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town. "No black leader of any relevance will see Sir Geoffrey. His visit is pointless, for us a non-event."

Howe, who is due to meet Botha here July 23 and again July 29, finished a preliminary tour of three neighboring black states Friday in search of a peaceful resolution of South Africa's problems but received no encouragement during his visits to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Winnie Mandela said, however, that the real aim of the Howe mission is to halt European moves to impose punitive economic sanctions on South Africa and thus protect Britain's extensive economic interests in the country.

'Thatcher Has No Right'

"Margaret Thatcher has no right to prescribe to us how we should suffer," she said, referring to the British prime minister's opposition to sanctions.

Under emergency regulations prohibiting the reporting of "subversive statements," including calls for disinvestment, the rest of her remarks may not be quoted.

In other developments Friday, 32 political detainees, held without charge under the state of emergency, smuggled a letter from Modderbee Prison, east of Johannesburg, saying that they had gone on a hunger strike Monday to protest their treatment and demand better food and medical care as well as family visits, clean clothes and study privileges. A prison spokesman dismissed it as a "bid for propaganda."

An American missionary couple, Brian and Susan Burchfield, Lutheran ministers from Washington state, who had been working outside Cape Town, were ordered to leave the country by next week, apparently because of their involvement in anti-apartheid protests. Several Catholic and Protestant missionaries from Europe were deported earlier.

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