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Police Arrest Leaders of Independence Movement

August 20, 1987

WINDHOEK, South West-Africa (AP) _ Five rebel leaders were arrested during a police sweep in connection with a terrorism investigation, the Namibian police commissioner said Wednesday.

Among those arrested Tuesday was Anton Lubowski, 35, a lawyer and union leader, who in 1984 became the first white to announce his membership in the South-West Africa People’s Organization. The movement has been waging a military campaign for independence from South Africa since 1966.

SWAPO’s political wing is legal in South-West Africa, a South African-ruled territory also known as Namibia.

The territory’s acting police commissioner, Maj. Gen. Koos Myburgh, said the others arrested were SWAPO Vice President Hendrik Witboio; Daniel Tjongarero, deputy national chairman; Niko Bessinger, joint secretary for foreign affairs; and John Pandeni, general secretary of the SWAPO-affiliated Namibian Food and Allied Union.

The South African Press Association said police raided homes and SWAPO offices in several towns.

Myburgh said police seized numerous documents and pamphlets during the sweep, adding that the suspects were detained for ″possibly assisting with or instigating the commission of terrorist acts.″

Last month, SWAPO officials claimed responsiblity for a car-bombing that damaged a parking garage in Windhoek, located in central Namibia. Namibian authorities said afterwards that SWAPO’s top leaders were partly to blame for the blast, which caused no injuries.

The arrests Tuesday coincided with a visit to South Africa by a United Nations envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, to discuss the Namibian situation.

South Africa has said it would honor a U.N. resolution calling for independence and free elections in Namibia, but only on condition that Cuban troops withdraw from neighboring Angola.

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