Civilians bear brunt of Angola's ferocious war: At least 100,000 have died since Unita took up arms in October after losing elections

THE ANGOLAN government and Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebels continued to announce tallies of the civilians killed in recent weeks as the world's worst war, with at least 100,000 deaths in 10 months, took an even more ferocious turn, writes Karl Maier.

The government has intensfied its counter-offensive by dropping 500lb bombs on the central highlands city of Huambo, stronghold of Mr Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita). Among the casualties have been scores of civilians and the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The rebels have tightened their stranglehold on Cuito, 60 miles east, shelling the city of 250,000 people and leaving hundreds of corpses to rot in the streets.

Unita yesterday said the bombing raids on Huambo killed 200 civilians in the past week, while Angolan state radio announced an equal casualty toll in Cuito in recent days. Since the siege began, 14,000 people have died in Cuito, the government said. The lack of medicines, clean water, and electricity in both cities has ensured that the number of dead will rise even if the fighting stops. Fierce clashes were also reported in the province of Kwanza Sul, near the Atlantic coast.

Government forces appeared to show determination against the rebels, with military spokesmen claiming a turnaround in the army's fortunes. Other observers said the improving government posture reflected weakness in the Unita forces, which, with control of 75 per cent of the country, are badly overstretched.

The international community, which had hoped to hold up Angola as a model transformation from civil war to democracy, has gradually weighed in with support for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government, led by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Mr Savimbi restarted the war in October after charging that the UN-supervised elections, which Unita lost to the MPLA, were rigged.

Britain on Monday announced a lifting of the arms embargo against Angola, and the United States has expressed willingness to provide non-lethal aid to the army. Washington, once a major backer of Unita along with South Africa, reversed its hostility to the former Marxist authorities when President Bill Clinton recognised the MPLA government in May.

The government has bought arms from several European countries, including Spain and Portugal, and, reports say, Israel. Russian technicians have restored old weaponry. Unita is believed to be supported by Zaire and private sources in South Africa.

A threat by the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo against Unita on 15 September unless it honoured the May 1991 peace accords is a hollow one, according to most military analysts. Some said Unita's arms stockpile could last two years.

Some observers believe the increased fighting could reflect a desire on both sides to gain maximum battlefield advantage before the deadline, when Unita might agree to new peace talks to stave off further isolation.

UN relief agencies and the International Red Cross vainly have sought permission to airlift food aid and medicines to both sides. The UN special envoy, Alioune Blondi Beye, has met Mr Savimbi and President dos Santos and the three countries that sponsored the original peace accords, Russia, Portugal and the US. But he has found the diplomatic solution as elusive now as it was under his predecessor, Margaret Anstee, whose tenure oversaw the collapse of the peace process and descent into full-scale war.

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities