UNITA Claims Capture of Two Cuban Air Force Officers
Oct. 31, 1987
LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ Angolan rebels said Friday they shot down a government warplane over southeastern Angola and captured the two Cuban officers aboard, who had parachuted to safety.
The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, known by its Portuguese acronym UNITA, said its forces shot down the Soviet-built MiG-23 plane Wednesday over Moxico province.
A statement distributed in Lisbon said the two Cubans piloting the plane parachuted to safety but were captured by UNITA rebels near the town of Luvuei.
UNITA said the Cubans, identified as Lt. Col. Manuel Rocas Garcias and Capt. Ramon Quesada Aguilar, would be brought before a news conference next month at rebel bush headquarters at Jamba in southeastern Angola.
Rocas Garcias provided the rebels with information about Cuban troops in Angola and described their morale as ''extremely low'', according to the rebel statement. There was no independent confirmation of the claim.
A UNITA spokesman in Washington said the rebels used U.S.-supplied weapons to shoot down the plane.
''It was an accurate and prompt response from our forces on the ground, using some of the technology we received from the U.S.,'' said spokesman Marcus Samondo.
He declined to go into detail about the U.S.-supplied technology, but the United States reportedly has supplied UNITA with shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. Another UNITA source said the weapons mentioned in news reports were the ones used.
Samondo said the news conference would be held Nov. 11, the 12th anniversary of Angolan independence from Portugal.
UNITA said Thursday it had defeated a two-month government offensive against its southern strongholds.
The rebels, backed by the United States and South Africa, have been fighting since the former Portuguese colony gained independence in 1975 to topple its Soviet- and Cuban-backed government.
UNITA said it was the first time in the 12-year war that a high-ranking Cuban air force officer had fallen into its hands.