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DATE=10/22/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ANGOLA / WAR (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255371 BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA DATELINE=JOHANNESBURG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A top official of Angola's UNITA rebel movement says rebel forces will fight on despite the loss of their key strongholds in the country's Central Highlands. More from V-O-A Southern Africa Correspondent Alex Belida. TEXT: Breaking a nearly weeklong rebel silence, UNITA General Paolo Lukamba Gato admits rebel forces have lost the strongholds of Andulo and Bailundo. But in a satellite telephone interview with V-O-A (Portuguese Service), General Gato contends the two towns in Angola's embattled Central Highlands were abandoned by the rebels for strategic reasons. He says UNITA forces remain intact and intend to fight on. Angolan authorities announced the capture of Andulo and Bailundo earlier this week. Angolan and Portuguese journalists have been taken to the two towns to confirm that they are under government control. But until now, UNITA has had no comment. The whereabouts of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and other top rebel figures, including General Gato, remain unknown. General Gato declined to say in his interview where he was speaking from. Meanwhile, Angolan armed forces Chief of Staff General Joao de Matos has acknowledged that the capture of Andulo and Bailundo does not mean the country's long and bloody civil war is over. But he is quoted by Angola's state news agency (ANGOP) as vowing government troops will press on with their offensive against UNITA. Analysts have described the fall of Andulo and Bailundo as mainly of symbolic importance. They believe rebel forces still remain capable of staging guerrilla attacks. Angola's civil war resumed late last year after the government in Luanda accused UNITA of failing to comply with the terms of a 1994 United Nations brokered peace agreement. (Signed) NEB/BEL/GE/LTD/KL 22-Oct-1999 12:41 PM EDT (22-Oct-1999 1641 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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