ANGOLA: New shelling, government accuses UN 1998.12.23

ANGOLA: New shelling, government accuses UN 1998.12.23

ANGOLA: New shelling, government accuses UN

JOHANNESBURG, 23 December (IRIN) - Emergency aid deliveries to thousands of displaced people in and around the central Angolan town of Kuito were disrupted on Tuesday after the government-held town was heavily shelled.

Several people were killed in the attack by UNITA rebel forces and many others injured, according to humanitarian sources.

Humanitarian sources in the capital Luanda told IRIN they had heard from representatives in Kuito that the shelling had last several hours into the early afternoon. An initial toll put the number of dead at five with an estimated 40 wounded. "However, we heard those figures as the count was still going on," a source told IRIN.

Local radio reports in Angola and Portugal monitored by the BBC said Kuito, where 8,000 displaced people have been receiving emergency aid, had been hit by long-range artillery shells fired from an opposition UNITA 17 km away. The city had been reported quiet and under central government control for several days after fierce fighting on its outskirts between UNITA and government troops last week.

The sources said the city was still not accessible by road and that airport had remained shut since a government-chartered cargo aircraft was shot down 10 days ago.

In the city of Huambo, 120 km to the southwest where more than 30,000 displaced people have sought shelter, WFP delivered its first consignments of food aid this week. "The airport there is open, and we were able to airlift supplies in on Tuesday," a spokeswoman told IRIN.

Meanwhile, Angola's national radio has broadcast a "declaration" adopted on Tuesday by the Council of Ministers' Standing Commission saying it was "concerned at the passive and complacent manner in which the international community witnessed UNITA's repeated failures to adhere to the (UN-brokered 1994) Lusaka Protocol, despite complaints made at the appropriate time".

It said UNITA had been able to re-arm and re-organise its forces. "The government finds it difficult to understand that thousands of UN observers deployed in Angola within the

framework of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission - 3 (Unavem-3) and the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), have never realised what was happening, especially when they endorsed UNITA's formal declaration issued in mid-1998 to the effect that it had disarmed and demilitarized its forces completely.

"Worse still, the United Nations questioned the government's reports and always doubted that the military activity taking place in just about every corner of the country," the statement said. It added: "The government of the Republic of Angola regrets that the UN Security Council acts as if it is using double standards."

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) it said was right to condemn UNITA's leader Jonas Savimbi "a war criminal on whom one can no longer count for any peace process or national reconciliation. The international community should follow suit as a means of facilitating the resolution of the so-called Angolan conflict."


From: IRIN - Southern Africa <> To: Subject: ANGOLA: New shelling, government accuses UN 1998.12.23

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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