(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Defence ministry admits to deaths against UNITA

The Namibian ministry of defence has admitted that two Namibian soldiers died fighting suspected UNITA rebels in southern Angola last month, ‘The Namibian’ said on Monday. The newspaper said that the ministry made the revelation in a press statement responding to a claim by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) that eight Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers had been killed in combat with UNITA on 21 July.

“The true fact is that, only two NDF soldiers died and three [were] wounded contrary to NSHR report,” NDF spokesman Vincent Mwange was quoted as saying. “There is absolutely no truth” in the NSHR report that “injured soldiers and the dead were carried for seven days to a place where they could be picked up by a helicopter. The NDF has a well-trained and equipped force with all the military components in place,” Mwange added. “Our dead and wounded soldiers were evacuated on time and not after seven days as alleged by the NSHR press release.”

last week the NSHR said in a statement that eight NDF soldiers were killed at Licua in southeastern Angola about 150 km northeast of the Namibian border town of Rundu. “The surviving soldiers in the unit had no choice but to carry the dead and injured soldiers for seven days, to a place where they could be picked up by helicopter,” the NSHR said.

“Choppers could apparently not pick them up earlier as they came under heavy fire. The eight bodies were allegedly brought into Namibia some time around July 28. The burial of one of the dead, Johannes Heinrich took, place recently in Owambo. The other bodies were taken to Grootfontein Military Base,” alleged the NSHR.

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