About 80 British mercenary soldiers going to fight in the civil war in Angola were detained by police in London on Tuesday (3 February) after a tip that the men had firearms.
GV Fenchurch Street station
GV PAN Mercenary in battle dress top
GV Mercenary leaving station
SV Mercenaries entering bus trying to hide faces
SV PAN Mercenaries in bus
SV PAN Sign "St. George Club" coach leaves
GV Police car blocking coach's path
SV Police enter bus ZOOM INTO gesticulating mercenary
GV TILT DOWN FROM police station TO coach outside with police searching (3 shots)
Initials BB/0150 TA/TB/BB/0215
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: About 80 British mercenary soldiers going to fight in the civil war in Angola were detained by police in London on Tuesday (3 February) after a tip that the men had firearms.
The men were taken from three buses believed to be en route for cross Channel ferries. They ware searched at police stations but later they were all released. Police said they found no weapons but the men were carrying passports.
A week ago 97 British mercenaries left London to join pro-western forces in Angola. There were reports from a Yugoslav agency in the Angolan capital Luanda on Tuesday that troops of the Soviet backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had inflicted heavy losses on a column of white mercenaries in fighting near the border with Zairo.
The second group of British mercenaries gathered at Fenchurch Street station in London, where they boarded buses marked with the name of a local boys' club to hide their real purpose. Many hid their faces from photographers and non admitted to newsmen that they were making for Angola.
During the day Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko announced that he had banned the use of his country's territory for the transit of mercenaries bound for the Angolan civil war. The decision was taken following foreign press reports that the first group of British mercenaries had passed through Zaire's capital Kinshasa.
The Zaire News Agency said the President's decision was in line with Zaire's policy of neutrality. While denouncing the presence of what it called "Soviet-Cuban mercenaries" fighting for the MPLA, the statement said Zaire could not authorise at the same time other mercenaries, whatever their nationality, to transit via Zaire.