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Angola Cops Detain 3 Journalists

August 24, 1999

LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ In the latest government crackdown on media coverage of the civil war, three Angolan journalists said Tuesday they were detained by police after broadcasting reports about recent rebel shelling of a government-held city.

The journalists said police detained them Monday in Kuito, 360 miles southeast of Luanda, on suspicion of ``releasing military information which endangers regional stability.″

The journalists, Anicete dos Santos, Abel Abrao and Florentino Setila, said they were released later Monday.

Their reports on the rebel group UNITA’s attack on Kuito, a strategic central highland city, were broadcast last Thursday on Voice of America radio, and Angolan independent radio Ecclesia, as well as Portuguese television station RTP Africa.

Police officials were not immediately available for comment.

The government in January imposed a blackout on news about the fighting, and in recent weeks has stepped up control over independent reporting.

Earlier this month, 10 journalists were detained for broadcasting an interview with UNITA rebel chief Jonas Savimbi.

An international press watchdog group, the Paris-based Reporters Without Frontiers, has denounced what it calls a ``systematic policy″ of the Angolan authorities to curb coverage of the war.

The government and UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, resumed fighting last December, shattering a 1994 U.N.-brokered peace accord.

Angola’s civil war first erupted after the country’s 1975 independence from Portugal.

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