African guerrillas in Rhodesia carried out their most significant act of sabotage for weeks on Wednesday (6 October) when they destroyed the Matetsi River railway bridge, 30 miles south-east of Victoria Falls.
SV: goods train travelling through scrubland. (2 shots)
GV EXTERIOR: Victoria Falls bridge
SV INTERIOR: goods train around bend.
SV PAN: armed troops in the back of pick-up vans.
SV: armed solider checking motorist's documents.
SV: troops in back of vehicle setting up machine gun.
SV: coach and cars through road block.
SV: armed soldier on back of vehicle and barrel of automatic weapon mounted on back as vehicle drives in convoy of cars. (3 shots)
GV ZOOM IN LV: damaged bridge and crashed train and SV PAN OF same. (2 shots)
SV PULL BACK TO GV: wreckage below bridge.
SV PULL BACK TO GV: engine on track discharging water.
SV and GV PAN FROM: soldiers in jeep to wreckage around bridge. (2 shots)
The severed line is the one used by Zaire to transport minerals for shipping from South African ports. It has been in constant use by Zaire since the closing of the Benguela Railway through Angola during the recent civil war there. Zambia has denied reports that it, too, is using the route.
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Background: African guerrillas in Rhodesia carried out their most significant act of sabotage for weeks on Wednesday (6 October) when they destroyed the Matetsi River railway bridge, 30 miles south-east of Victoria Falls.
SYNOPSIS: The railway line goes north-west into Zambia, and carries Rhodesia's exports to Zaire and Zambia. Despite President Kaunda's open hostility to the Smith Regime, it is an open secret that Rhodesian coal and grain trucks are pushed on to the bridge over the Zambesi at Victoria Falls. The trucks are then picked up by Zambian locomotives on the other side without either driver leaving his country.
Most of the war has been on Rhodesia's eastern border with Mozambique, but the Rhodesian army has also kept a wary eye on the Zambian border, from which guerrilla attacks have been launched form time to time. At dusk the last day-trippers to Victoria Falls drive out in a convoy.
Most of the twelve hour drive is made with a heavily armed escort of part-time policemen. What used to be a routine precaution is now a necessity. There are guerrillas within a few miles of the hotels and casino at Victoria Falls. After the Beitbridge Road incident, Rhodesians know the guerrillas will attack civilian traffic if and when they can.
This time the target was the railway and a southbound goods train carrying Zambian copper. A local soldier called it a prestige target, and that means an expensive and disruptive reminder to Rhodesia that whatever the kills claimed by its Army and its frequent, but undetailed communiques, a few men can hit remote and unguarded targets at will.
In this case nobody died, but the next train along would have been a passenger train with the first two coaches full of Africans. The explosion severely damaged the Matetsi River bridge, and eleven goods wagons were sent crashing into the river.