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14 Civilians Die in Blast at Crowded Namibia Bank

February 19, 1988|Associated Press

WINDHOEK, Namibia — A bomb exploded today in a crowded bank in a northern town, killing 14 civilians in the deadliest such attack since a guerrilla war for independence began 22 years ago, police said.

The 1 p.m. blast at the First National Bank in Oshakati killed 10 women, 3 men and a child, and injured more than 30 people, police said. All were black except for one white woman.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, which caused extensive damage to the building. The same bank was bombed last year but no one was injured.

Police said about 55 pounds of plastic explosive was used. Police Inspector Keirie Du Rand said a fire raged for several hours after the explosion, hampering police access to the scene.

Oshakati is in north-central Namibia, about 25 miles south of the Angolan border. It is home to a major South African military base.

Guerrillas of the South-West African People's Organization, based in neighboring Angola, frequently operate in the area. SWAPO's military wing is outlawed, but its political wing is legal.

A statement received in Windhoek from a SWAPO office in Luanda, Angola, denied SWAPO involvement in the bombing. The statement said the blast was part of a South African campaign to discredit SWAPO.

SWAPO has been fighting since 1966 to gain control of South-West Africa, also known as Namibia. The territory is administered by South Africa in violation of a United Nations resolution.

SWAPO has claimed responsibility for numerous previous bombings in the territory, including a blast last month of a store at a military base in Windhoek.

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