March 2, 2002

UNITA rebels kills six, Conditions on Peace talks

Six people were reported killed in Angola on Friday, March 1 in the third attack by UNITA rebels since their leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in a battle with government forces on 22 February.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa said 13 other people were wounded in the attack on February 28, in the northeast province of Lunda Norte. Angolan government military sources told Lusa the attackers were trying to get food. On Monday, February 25, nine people were killed in an ambush in Malange by UNITA rebels and another 15 were seriously wounded, while four were killed and four more wounded in another attack on Thursday, February 28.

The Luanda government called on rebels to lay down their arms after the death of the group's towering figurehead. On a visit to Washington this week, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said government forces were in no position to call a ceasefire. But officials said earlier on Friday, March 1, that dos Santos had ordered the army to make contact with the UNITA and work towards a ceasefire.

As a reaction, UNITA said there would be "no military victory" for the government. UNITA member Jaka Jamba said that certain conditions would have to be met before UNITA agrees to the ceasefire. He said that UNITA representatives abroad must first be allowed to have talks with the United Nations. Jamba also called for the easing of UN imposed sanctions on UNITA.

Referring to speculation that the government may be under pressure from generals of the Angolan army (FAA) to continue the campaign to wipe-out UNITA, Jamba demanded that Dos Santos "diminish the pressure on (newly appointed leader) Antonio Dembo and the permanent committee". Dembo was the deputy leader of UNITA.

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