On the eve of forming a transitional government for Mozambique the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) freed all the Portuguese Army prisoners of war who had been captured during the ten years of guerrilla war.
On the eve of forming a transitional government for Mozambique the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) freed all the Portuguese Army prisoners of war who had been captured during the ten years of guerrilla war. It appeared to be a gesture of good faith to the Portuguese Government in Lisbon, before FRELIMO took over political power in Mozambique.
For the 197 soldiers who were released unilaterally, the event came as a complete surprise. They were attending a routine morning parade at their prisoner-of-war camp at Nachingwea, Tanzania, when FRELIMO's president, Samora Machel, inspected them, and then announced "You are being returned to your homes today. This marks the end of the war."
After a stunned silence, the soldiers, mostly in their early twenties, cheered, danced, embraced each other, sang and began chanting "Viva FRELIMO" and "Viva Portugal."
Each man was presented with a toilet pack containing a new towel, toothpaste and cigarettes. Dressed in the dull green serge normally worn by FRELIMO troops, they were then flown by Tanzanian Air Force planes across the border with Mozambique to Nangade, in Mozambique.
There they were transferred to Portuguese civilian aircraft, and flown to Mocimboe Da Praia, and then on to Lorenco Marques.
The handover at Nangade, was very casual, and watched only by half-naked children, a small group of journalists, and a Portuguese official. The prisoners all looked in good physical health, and there was no sign of bitterness.