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Africa

Angolan troops enter Congo, ‘kidnap soldiers’

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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-18

Angolan forces have entered neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville and taken a number of Congolese troops hostage, a Congolese military source said Thursday. The Angolan soldiers were allegedly pursuing separatist rebels from the country’s Cabinda province.

Angolan troops have crossed into neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville and taken a number of the country's soldiers hostage, a senior Congolese officer said on Thursday.

The Angolan soldiers entered Congo's southwestern Kimongo district from the Angolan enclave of Cabinda on Sunday, Colonel Christian Sansa, a senior commander with Congo's gendarmes deployed in the area, told Reuters.

“They claim they are in their own country’s territory. We think it’s a problem of their unfamiliarity with the borders,” he said.

Sansa said Congo-Brazzaville (also known as the Republic of Congo) had deployed soldiers to the area after learning of the incursion but they were quickly subdued by the Angolan forces.

“Our soldiers were surrounded by the Angolan soldiers, and as we speak there has been no change in that situation,” he said.

Rebels

The Angolan troops were pursuing rebels belonging to the separatist group the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) when they crossed into Congolese territory, local journalist Hermann Bouess told the AFP news agency.

“Among the arrested soldiers, there are a colonel and a captain,” added Bouess.

French broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported that as many as 40 Congolese soldiers had been detained by the Angolans. Citing anonymous local sources, RFI said Angolan troops were controlling five positions in the area.

Angola’s ambassador in the Congolese capital Brazzaville told journalists on Thursday that he was still seeking information on what, if anything, had happened along the border, but denied that Angolan soldiers had detained Congolese personnel.

“It’s not true. It’s false. But you know that at any border there is always friction either among the population or with the services charged with monitoring the border,” said the ambassador, Fernando Pedro Mavunza.

The incident highlights tensions around Angola’s Cabinda province, which is separated from the rest of Angola and surrounded by Congo-Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though small, Cabinda accounts for much of Angola’s oil production, which makes the country the second largest exporter in Africa. The FLEC and other separatist rebel movements have fought Angolan troops since independence in 1975.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-18

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