The Rhodesian Government has directly accused Mozambique of responsibility for Wednesday's (11 August) mortar attack on the eastern border town of Umtli.
The Rhodesian Government has directly accused Mozambique of responsibility for Wednesday's (11 August) mortar attack on the eastern border town of Umtli. An official government communique issued the same day said it was definitely not the work of Rhodesian nationalist guerrillas.
SYNOPSIS: The half-hour attack in the early part of the morning inflicted damage on white homes on the edge of the town nearest the border, only a few miles (kilometres) away. The mortars were interspersed with rifle fire. There were no white casualties, but two black domestic servants were slightly injured. About a hundred people were hurriedly evacuated to a hotel int he city centre. Shortly after the attack, two Hawker Hunter jet aircraft of the Rhodesian Air Force swooped low over the town and flew up and down the border. Army troops were rushed to the scene, but the Mozambique Frelimi troops involved had retreated out of range.
The incident was the most serious for Umtali since the border incidents began. Until now the town itself, used as a garrison headquarters for Rhodesian troops fighting along the border, has not been involved in any direct action.
The attack was seen as retaliation for a weekend raid into Mozambique by Rhodesian troops. They attacked a guerrilla camp. and claimed they killed 300 black nationalist guerrillas, 30 Frelimo troops and ten civilians. The Rhodesian raid, in turn, was a reprisal for a mortar attack the previous week in which five white Rhodesian soldiers were killed in a direct hit on their position.
Four of the five mortar victims of the original raid were buried in Umtali only a few hours after Wednesday's attack.