Angolan bandits ambush UN aid convoy

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The Independent Online
A CONVOY of 16 United Nations trucks was ambushed by armed bandits in northern Angola and UN escorts returned fire, the UN said yesterday. Three people were injured, though not seriously.

The convoy, consisting of six trucks from the UN military observer mission and 10 trucks from the World Food Programme, came under fire on Wednesday about 12 miles north of Lukana, in the north of the country. Indian soldiers escorting the convoy returned fire, the UN said. Three local employees of a contractor were injured, though not seriously.

The UN has been trying to implement a 1994 peace accord between the government and the former rebel movement Unita, in the face of renewed fighting between the two sides. Unita, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, fought a civil war with the government for nearly two decades after Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975.

A UN-mediated 1994 accord, called the Lusaka Protocol, ended the fighting, but the UN says Unita has resisted honouring it, particularly by refusing to hand over four key territories and demobilise its troops. The Angolan army, meanwhile, has said that it is determined to dislodge Unita from highland strongholds that it has refused to surrender.

Unita will be ousted from the last four central towns it holds "as soon as possible", Higino Carneiro, a government minister, told reporters earlier this week. "We can do it peacefully or with violence."

So far, Unita has relinquished control of most of the 50 per cent of the country which it held before the deal. But the rebel group has accused the government of committing human rights abuses against its supporters in the areas that it has already relinquished.