Namibian soldiers clash with UNITA

Three suspected UNITA rebels were shot and killed last week near Namibia's northern border, Namibian defence officials said at the weekend.

News reports quoted a defence ministry spokesman, Frans Nghitilwa, as saying that the three fired at four Namibian Defence Force members, injuring one of the soldiers. The reports added that several attacks had taken place recently in the Caprivi area, all allegedly the work of UNITA rebels.

Meanwhile, Namibian President Sam Nujoma said last week that UNITA and its leader Jonas Savimbi had to be "crushed" if peace was to be restored to Angola. He was quoted in news reports as saying that "the defeat of Savimbi will be for the best economic and development interest of our region, and no one must harbour any illusions about this."

Reports quoted Nujoma as commending the Namibian people, especially those who live in the Kavango and Caprivi Regions for their "steadfast co-operation" with the government and the security forces in combating suspected UNITA rebels.

"All the sacrifices that have been made are not in vain. UNITA bandits will be crushed and peace and stability will be fully restored," he said.

UNITA incursions and attacks into areas bordering Angola have escalated since 2000 when Nujoma gave the Angolan army permission to launch attacks against UNITA from inside Namibia.