LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola intends to crush FLEC insurgents who claimed the killing of two members of the Togo national soccer delegation, and pursue rebels living abroad, a government minister said on Monday.
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), a small remnant of a group that has been fighting for independence from Angola for over 30 years, is led from Paris by its long-time president, N’Zita Tiago. Some rebels are believed to operate from the Congo Republic to the north of Cabinda.
“We will do all we can to finish them off,” Antonio Bento Bembe, an ex-rebel who is now minister without portfolio in charge of Cabinda Affairs and the government’s strategy on the FLEC, told Reuters in an interview.
“We want an international arrest warrant to be issued to capture those responsible for fuelling this attack.”
Bento Bembe said the driver of the bus, who was initially believed to have died, was alive and out of danger.
He said Tiago should be arrested.
“N’Zita Tiago has connections to those who carried out this terrorist attack and should be arrested. We’re talking about a group of gangsters that want to spread terror, fear and insecurity.”
Angolan authorities have arrested two people who they say took part in last Friday’s ambush, which killed the assistant coach and the media officer of the Togo team as they travelled by bus to Cabinda for the start of the African Nations Cup.
Bento Bembe said one of those arrested was from the Republic of Congo, and called for help from that country and Cabinda’s other neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We ask all countries to help us capture those responsible for this atrocity,” he said. “We will not cross our arms in the face of this threat. It is our obligation to do everything we can to bring these people to justice.”
The French Foreign Ministry said remarks made by Rodrigues Mingas, the FLEC secretary general who is part of its leadership in exile, in which he pledged to pursue an insurgency were “unacceptable and will have consequences”.
In a statement published by Kinshasa newspapers, Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said the Democratic Republic of Congo — whose territory separates Angola from the Cabinda enclave — now regarded FLEC as a “terrorist organisation” and would strip its members of their refugee status.
Bento Bembe said Angola guaranteed that there would be no more attacks during the African Nations Cup, the continent’s top soccer competition, and that oil companies operating in Cabinda were safe.
Cabinda produces over half of Angola’s oil from offshore oil wells operated by Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Total, among others. Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer.