Troops clash with Congolese in Cabinda

Mail&Guardian (South Africa), 14 October 1997.

Luanda - Reports on Tuesday suggest Angolan and Congolese troops are engaged in battle around Maconje in the north of Angola's oil-rich Cabinda enclave.

The Angolan defence ministry on Tuesday refused to comment on developments in Cabinda, other than to stand by a claim made on Sunday that Congolese troops had attacked the enclave by air and by land. Forces backing Congo's President Pascal Lissouba have meanwhile alleged that Angolan government soldiers have invaded south-western Congo in support of former dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is at war with Lissouba.

Meanwhile, Gabon, backed by Congo's former colonial power France, the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity, is seeking a diplomatic solution to the Congolese crisis, which has drawn in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Angola.

Cabinda is a piece of territory on the Atlantic Ocean surrounded to the north by Congo and to the east and south by the DRC. The former Portuguese territory fell under Angola's control when Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, although Congo still lays claim to the enclave.

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