30 die in Angola landmine blast

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The Independent Online

Thirty people were killed and 17 others injured when a truck and a four-wheel-drive hit two anti-tank mines in northern Angola.

The victims were returning from a rural market close to Negage, in the province of Uige, when the two vehicles ran over the mines which were laid 4 miles apart and ringed by dynamite, according to local reports.

The injured, among them two babies less than a year old, were taken to a hospital in Negage, which lies about 160 miles northeast of the capital, Luanda.

All 47 people were traveling in the two vehicles.

Human rights groups say both the government and UNITA rebels have planted fresh land mines in large areas of Angola since a two-decade-civil war reignited in December 1998.

Angola signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997.

Meanwhile, the government's new offensive against the rebels, based on guerrilla tactics rather than conventional warfare, is already underway, according to the independent weekly Agora.

The new stage in fighting comes after the army moved its field headquarters from the southwest coast to Moxico province, 720 miles east of Luanda.

Specially trained units are prepared to pursue rebel groups into neighboring Congo, Namibia and Zambia, the newspaper said on Monday.

Angola's civil war, which erupted 25 years ago, recently spilled over into Namibia and Zambia. The Angolan government also has troops in Congo supporting President Laurent Kabila against a rebel insurgency.

Since the resumption of fighting, the government has captured UNITA's key strongholds in the central highlands and minimized the rebels' ability of waging a conventional war.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos recently claimed 8,000 UNITA fighters had defected and had joined the armed forces.

The government and UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, began fighting after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.