Cabinda (Angola): Separatists launch offensive

Mail&Guardian (South Africa), 11. August 1997.

Johannesburg - Heavy fighting was reported over the weekend between Angolan government troops and separatist forces in the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda.

Fighting is concentrated in Tandu-Zinze, Buko-Zawu and Belize, in the north of the province, the private pro-government Correio da Semana reported on Monday, adding that the separatists were using long-range weapons.

The Angolan defence ministry said recently that the separatists of the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front (Flec-Renewed) has a fighting force of some 1 200 troops. Correio da Semana said FLEC had mounted 15 attacks on army targets since May in the enclave, which is located on the Atlantic coast between Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and produces most of Angola's oil.

About a dozen separatist groups, three of them armed, are demanding independence for Cabinda, which was made part of Angola in 1956 by its former Portuguese colonial rulers. After independence in 1975, Angola made the region one of its 18 provinces.

Flec-Renewed (FLEC-Renovada or FLEC-R) signed a truce with the Luanda regime in September 1996, but then broke it a few months later.

Petroleum accounts for more than half of Angola's state revenues, with Cabinda's offshore oilfields forming the core of the industry, covering about two-thirds of total output.

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