Angolan troops launch offensives into diamond territory held by rebels Fall of Mobutu in Zaire weakens government foes

THE BALTIMORE SUN

LUANDA, Angola -- In an important spillover effect of the war in Zaire, government troops in neighboring Angola have attacked territory controlled by their longtime rebel enemies, who lost their most important backer when Mobutu Sese Seko, the Zairian dictator, was defeated.

Military officials and diplomats say the Angolan government, which signed a peace treaty with the rebels in 1994, has launched offensives deep in the country's diamond territory.

Government officials say they have simply been trying to patrol their border against armed militias and soldiers loyal to Mobutu who are trying to escape the former Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But Western diplomats and United Nations officials say the fighting has been taking place in remote mining areas rather than on the Angola-Congo border.

These areas -- savanna threaded with diamond-rich riverbeds -- have been producing income for rebels, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, ot UNITA.

In recent days, U.N. officials say, planeloads of diesel fuel, rations and ammunition have arrived in the area.

Since the government and the former rebels are supposed to be observing a peace agreement, the government's actions have raised questions about whether it intends an all-out assault.

Pub Date: 6/08/97

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