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S. Africa Jets Raid Rebels' Angola Bases

February 21, 1988|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Fighter planes from South Africa flew revenge raids on guerrilla bases in Angola at dawn Saturday, a day after a bomb killed 18 people in a Namibian bank.

Angolan authorities said several civilians were killed.

More than a dozen Mirage and Impala aircraft attacked three bases of the South-West Africa People's Organization in southern Angola, the Defense Force chief, Gen. Jannie Geldenhuys, said in a statement.

He said the attacks avenged the bombing Friday of the First National Bank in Oshakati, Namibia, where 18 people were killed and 31 were injured. Most of the dead were black government employees cashing their weekly paychecks.

Blames SWAPO for Bomb

Geldenhuys accused SWAPO of the bank bombing. The guerrilla group has been fighting for 22 years against South African control of Namibia, also known as South-West Africa. South Africa administers the huge, sparsely populated territory in defiance of a U.N. resolution calling for its withdrawal and U.N.-supervised elections leading to Namibian independence.

On Friday, SWAPO denied involvement in the bank blast, the deadliest in Namibia in two decades. It has claimed responsibility for other bombings in Namibia.

Angola's Defense Ministry said that Saturday's air assault on Lubango and Ngiva left several civilians dead. The exact number had not yet been determined, according to a statement reported by the Angolan news agency ANGOP.

On Friday, South African Defense Minister Magnus Malan and Foreign Minister Roelof F. (Pik) Botha warned neighboring countries that South African troops would undertake unannounced "hot pursuit" raids across borders to fight guerrilla groups.

Geldenhuys said eight Mirage fighters took part in the attack on two targets near Lubango, about 190 miles north of the Namibian-Angolan border, and five Impala aircraft attacked targets at Ngiva, about 25 miles north of the border.

Geldenhuys said all the South African aircraft returned safely.

He said the Lubango targets were "SWAPO's most important training center in Angola, the Tobias Hainyeko Training Center, and a terrorist holding area about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of there." He said SWAPO had launched a number of attacks from Ngiva on civilians in Namibia.

South Africa's black-ruled neighbors--Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana and Angola--have accused South Africa of staging unannounced cross-border raids during the past 10 years, killing dozens of civilians as well as alleged guerrillas.

South African officials have denied, refused to comment on, or ridiculed most of the claims, although they did announce a raid last year on Livingstone, Zambia.

But military officials have acknowledged previous "hot pursuit" operations against SWAPO in southern Angola.

Botha and Malan presented their statement Friday as a new get-tough policy against neighboring governments which, they say, allow the anti-apartheid African National Congress, SWAPO and other guerrilla organizations to stage attacks on South Africa from their territories.

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