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Politics | Human rights | Society

Mass graves discovered in Namibia

afrol News, 10 September - Namibian Human Rights group has released details of mass graves for victims of the country's security forces today.

National Society for Human Rights said graves on both sides of the border with Angola that could contain remains of up to 1,600 civilians are located in the northern Ohangwena region.

"We found mounds of earth and things which appear like crosses in the ground, but also crosses marked on trees. According to information we received from local population, these were indeed mass graves for persons who were killed sometime between 1998 and 2003," said Executive director of the group Phol ya Nangoloh.

Director said group has circumstantial evidence to identify those buried in the graves, indicating that they gathered information that those people came from Cavango and Caprivi regions.

"That is precisely where over same period there was an armed conflict taking place there between Namibian and Angola forces on one side and UNITA rebels on the other. We have on our lists a lot of people who have disappeared during this conflict," he said.

A group said Namibian government had ordered that all illegal immigrants to be cleared from border area in 1994, saying some were accused of being members of the Angolan rebel group, Unita.

"Order resulted in systematic attacks on local people, and that security forces received orders directly from president at the time, Sam Nujoma," said NSHR.

Rights group has appealed for international assistance to dig up and examine remains, to identify them and determine when they were buried. Mr Ya Nangoloh says he hopes both Namibian and Angolan governments will cooperate in investigating the matter.

As to how many bodies may have been buried in various locations, he said: "There are altogether seven sites that we have discovered. In one site there are four people, 18 in another and 60 in others, there were around 30 people in each site."

The group however also said reported disappearances were also as a result of high level ethno political intolerance prevailing in Namibia since independence.

Responding to latest reports, Mr Nujoma's spokesman described allegations as an attempt to harm reputation of a former president.

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