Children on safari in Namibia murdered by gunmen

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Three French children have been murdered, their parents seriously injured and two aid workers - including a British woman - wounded in an attack by gunmen on their cars in remote northern Namibia.

Three French children have been murdered, their parents seriously injured and two aid workers - including a British woman - wounded in an attack by gunmen on their cars in remote northern Namibia.

The French family were on holiday to the game-rich Caprivi strip, a tongue of land that juts east along Namibia's border with Angola, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The parents, who were severely wounded in Monday night's attack, were still unaware last night that their children had died. Their cars were raked with gunfire in an ambush on Monday night before stealing their belongings.

The children, aged seven, 10 and 18, are the first foreigners to be killed in Namibia since Angola's bloody 25-year civil war spilled over into its southern neighbour a month ago.

Syma Damil, a Scottish woman, and Namibian Thomas Iyanbo, who work for the Danish aid agency Development Aid for People to People (Dapp), were injured in the attack and taken to hospital in the Namibian capital Windhoek. A second British woman is believed to have escaped injury.

The Danish embassy in Windhoek said yesterday that the gunmen in uniform opened fire on four cars travelling on a road in Caprivi about 140 miles east of the area's main town, Rundu.

The first of the four cars attacked, a minibus, managed to escape the fire. The second vehicle was carrying the French tourists, and in the last two were 14 Dapp employees, including British, South African, Australian, Zimbabwean and Namibian citizens.

The Danish consul, Carsten Norgaard, said the drivers of the Dapp vehicles were both shot in the legs but managed to drive on. They were taken to Windhoek for emergency operations yesterday morning.

Marauding gangs of rebels belonging to Angolan rebel group Unita (Union for the Total Independence of Angola), have reportedly been roaming northern Namibia, targeting civilians and stealing supplies, since the country allowed the Angolan army onto its territory to launch an offensive against rebel positions in southern Angola. Major-General Martin Shalli, head of staff of the Namibian army, blamed the attack on Unita although the group denied involvement.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Windhoek said that that two of the Dapp workers were British, both women. They were travelling through Caprivi from Zimbabwe to Oshakati in central northern Namibia, where they work.

Ms Damil's companion, whose name is not yet known, is still in northern Namibia and appears to have escaped injury. Britain had warned its nationals to avoid Caprivi in the light of Angolan military action in the area, the spokesman added. In another atrocity reported yesterday, The Namibian newspaper said that at the weekend suspected Unita rebels attacked civilians at a shop about six miles from a military base at Bagani in Caprivi. In the attack with grenades and assault rifles, eight people were wounded and 20 Namibians abducted.

The bandits then planted anti-personnel and landmines on route back into Angola, said Captain Pharis Liswaniso, commanding officer at Bagani.

"People suspect the rebels are taking revenge on Namibians for the casualties Angolan forces have inflicted on them using Namibia as a springboard," said The Namibian.

Comments