INTRODUCTION: The Zaire invasion, and conflicting reports are coming in of alleged Cuban involvement. According?
INTRODUCTION: The Zaire invasion, and conflicting reports are coming in of alleged Cuban involvement. According to the Zaire news agency Azap, President Mobutu said on Tuesday (22 March) that Cuban troops had trained the former Katanga gendarmes who invaded Zaire's Shaba province 11 days ago. But Cuban leader Fidel Castro, currently on a tour of Africa, has denied any Cuban involvement and is said to have described the invasion as an internal problem. President Mobutu has been visiting troops in Southern Zaire.
SYNOPSIS: He flew to the town of Kolwesi in the southern Shaba province for a first hand look at the situation. President Mobutu was greeted by the local army commander and was given a formal welcome. The visit was also clearly designed to boost morale.
The town is a major copper mining centre, 25 miles east of the Angolan border. It is well fortified by Zaire army units, and is a long way from the other towns captured earlier by the invasion force from Angola.
President Mobutu met a pilot involved in the air offensive against the invaders. Zaire claims to have inflicted heavy casualties on the invasion forces.
There is still confusion about the total strength of the invading forces, but the Zaire government puts the figure at about 5,000. In the first ten days of the fighting three towns fell to the invaders. Reports from these towns say pictures of President Mobutu were torn from the walls of public buildings.
According to diplomatic sources quoted by Reuters, the attack on the Shaba province is not part of a concerted action by opposition groups to overthrow President Mobutu.