U.S. Recalls Envoy From South Africa : State Dept. Protests Military Attacks on Angola, Botswana
The United States today recalled its ambassador from South Africa to protest South African military attacks against Botswana and Angola, the State Department said.
The announcement of Ambassador Herman Nickel’s recall was linked directly by department spokesman Bernard Kalb to the South African army’s incursion into Botswana today and to the capture last month of a South African patrol in Kabinda, Angola, apparently on a mission to sabotage the U.S.-operated Gulf Oil refinery there.
Kalb said that in view of the recent military attacks, “we have decided to recall Ambassador Herman Nickel home for consultations to review the situation.”
“The U.S. government condemns South Africa’s attack on Botswana,” Kalb said.
Questions on Sincerity
The attack “raises the most serious questions about South Africa’s sincerity” in negotiations with the United States on bringing about a peaceful resolution to southern Africa’s problems, Kalb said.
He described the attack on Botswana villages as “particularly deplorable” and said the South Africans, who claim that their team in Angola was on an intelligence mission, have failed to come up with a satisfactory explanation for the presence of a heavily armed military group 1,000 miles inside Angola.
The recall of the U.S. envoy brings U.S.-South African relations to a low point, and marks a shift from the Reagan Administration’s policy of “constructive engagement,” in which it has tried to improve relations with the Pretoria government to enhance the U.S. role in changing that country’s apartheid policy of racial separation.
In the lightning predawn raid into Botswana, South African troops attacked the homes of black African National Congress dissidents and killed 13 to 15 people, the military said.
Boy, 6, Among the Slain
Radio Botswana said among those killed were a 6-year-old child with his uncle. It said some victims were shot at close range inside their bedrooms.
South African defense chief Gen. Constand Viljoen said the raiders included both black and white soldiers in camouflage uniforms. He said they attacked 10 houses in which ANC “terrorists” lived in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. He said three women were among those killed.
Viljoen said two people, either Botswana police or ANC members, opened fire on the raiders from a car and also were shot to death.
The outlawed ANC is fighting South Africa’s white minority government.
Radio Botswana said the raiders attacked shortly after midnight and fired heavy and light machine guns and mortars for about half an hour in at least five locations in the city 10 miles northeast of the South African border.