By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK One person was killed last Friday morning in an area previously known as a danger zone in western Caprivi where assailants from the then Unita rebel movement unleashed a reign of terror before their activities were subdued by the Namibian Defence Force. The latest incident that caused panic among travellers took place 13 kilometres from Chetto on the stretch of highway between Chetto and Omega in Caprivi after what the police say is a highway robber who sprayed automatic fire on a Toyota Corolla vehicle that overturned. Though the regional police commander in Caprivi Chief Inspector Kampolo said one gunman was involved, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) says two suspects whom it claimed had their faces covered with balaclavas launched the attack. The regional police chief who visited the scene shortly after the incident said initially the gunman who sprang from bushes on the side of the road attacked a green Land Rover with the registration number N10111W travelling from west to east. “This gunman is suspected to be an armed robber on a highway armed robbery,” said the region police chief who added that after the vehicle was hit with automatic fire, its driver managed to drive to the nearest police sub-station at Omega One to report the incident. While driving to the station, he saw a Toyota Corolla bearing the registration plates N862W and he stopped the vehicle and warned the driver and his passengers who were at that time travelling from west to east about the danger posed by the gunman. But his warning was apparently not heeded as the people in the Toyota Corolla continued with their journey and shortly after were peppered with automatic fire before their car overturned. After the sedan overturned several metres from the spot where it was hit along the Trans-Caprivi Highway some 200 km east of Katima Mulilo, says Phil ya Nangoloh the human rights boss, “the gunmen apparently approached the vehicle, dragged the dead man out before setting the vehicle alight”. Two other occupants of the vehicle, one a City of Windhoek employee, narrowly escaped death by getting out of the vehicle and hiding in nearby bushes. When the driver of the first vehicle reached the scene accompanied by the police, they found the sedan gutted and recovered one body from the scene, said the police. At this stage, the police are in investigating a case of attempted murder, murder and attempted armed robbery and have appealed to travellers to remain calm. Ya Nangoloh said from the information he has gathered, the shooting and the dressing of the gunmen “bear the hallmarks of previous similar shootings in the area, which were automatically attributed to so-called Unita bandits”. He was referring to previous shootings of this nature that occurred in that area shortly after local security forces successfully quelled a short-lived secessionist uprising that was inspired by former opposition DTA leader Mishake Muyongo and his followers. At the height of this terror in January 2000, three French-speaking children lost their lives after their vehicle was attacked. The attacks only ceased when the military launched hot pursuit operations and escorted motorists travelling between Kongola and Bagani. If Friday’s shooting is linked to clandestine secessionist activities in Caprivi that seem to be supported by a minority few elements mainly from Linyanti, this appears not to have escaped the ears and attention of the Mafwe Royal Establishment at Chinchimani. Recently, the leader of the Mafwe Chief George Simasiku Mamili said he has “learnt with disappointment that some individuals within our community have yet again started sowing seeds of spreading political messages which ultimately confuse and mislead the community within our jurisdiction. “These are the very same people whose clandestine political activities nearly led to untold, undue suffering for some of my people, a situation that various district and Silalo (area) Indunas failed to address after repeated but yet successful engagement with government,” stated Chief Mamili. “It is against this background that my Khuta and I hereby direct all my subjects to reject current attempts by the selfish minority and who seem to be politically confused for the ill intention to bring untold sufferings for our people,” he had added. He pledged to summon all Silalo Indunas in the area under his jurisdiction with a view to work out modalities of bringing “such destructive activities to an end” before they cause untold suffering to the people of Linyanti and surrounding villages.
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