Black Nationalist guerrillas derailed a train in Rhodesia on Saturday (31 March) near the Botswana border.
Black Nationalist guerrillas derailed a train in Rhodesia on Saturday (31 March) near the Botswana border. The railway is Zambia's vital supply line for food, fertilizers and copper exports. The train was travelling through territory heavily infiltrated by guerrillas loyal to co-leader of the Patriotic Front guerrilla alliance Joshua Nkomo.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Nkomo's Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, known as ZIPRA, did not immediately claim responsibility for the derailment, which injured three crewmen. A spokesman for Rhodesian Military Headquarters said anti-government guerrillas detonated explosives on the line, derailing the train as it approached Plumtree near the Botswana border. The explosion threw a load of Zambian copper from a railcar, across the track and the surrounding area. It was the worst incident on the rail line since Zambia re-opened the Rhodesian route last October. Other African states around Rhodesia protested Zambia's plan to move goods through Rhodesia and Botswana to South Africa. Zambia defended the re-opening of the route after a six year interval because its other rail links to the sea through Angola and Tanzania were blocked.
After the track was cleared of wreckage and debris, repair crews started laying sleepers. The railway line and the copper exports it carry from Zambia, are critical to the state of that country's economy. During the operation, Rhodesian soldiers stood guard in case guerrillas tried to upset the laying of rail tracks.