Friday, July 10

Angolan rebels threaten new attacks in Cabinda


JOHANNESBURG: Separatists who claimed a deadly shooting on Togo’s football team threatened new attacks in Angola, saying yesterday they had warned against hosting the Africa Cup of Nations in their province.

The Forces for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM) said attacks would continue because African football boss Issa Hayatou had refused to move games scheduled in Cabinda.

“This is going to continue, because the nation is at war, because Hayatou persists,” the group’s secretary general, Rodrigues Mingas, told AFP by telephone.

“Weapons will continue to talk,” he said. “This is our home, and it’s time Angola understood that.”

“We wrote two months before the Nations Cup to Mr Issa Hayatou to warn him that we were at war. He did not want to take our warnings into consideration,” said Mingas, who lives in exile in France.

“They were warned, they knew it, and they closed their eyes.”

“If they (Angola’s government) wanted to hold the Nations Cup in Cabinda, it’s because they had a hidden marketing agenda to make people believe that there’s peace in Cabinda so that investors would invest in Cabinda,” he said.

Mingas said a dozen men were involved in Friday’s attack that killed Togo’s assistant coach and squad spokesman. Nine others in the convoy were injured, and Mingas said one guerrilla was shot in the leg.

The rebels opened fire as Togo’s team crossed the border from Congo-Brazzaville.

The separatist struggle broke out in 1975, when Angola won independence from Portugal. The province now produces 60 percent of the oil that has powered Angola’s economic boom.

A 50-kilometre (30-mile) wide strip of the Democratic Republic Congo separates Cabinda from the rest of Angola. In colonial times, the area was known as Portuguese Congo, and separatists argue that the territory was never part of Angola.

Luanda says the conflict ended with a 2006 peace deal with the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).

But Mingas said his faction broke away from the main group in 2003 and is now one of several autonomous guerrilla groups that collaborate with a government in exile.

“We’re waiting for a crackdown, as always happens. There are 50,000 armed security forces in Cabinda,” Mingas said. “FLEC is a nationalist movement, a resistance movement, not a terrorist movement.”