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Two rebels and 17 Angolan soldiers died in clashes that occurred in an oil-producing province between government forces and the separatist Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), according to a statement by the rebel group on Monday.
The statement said the largest clashes occurred on Saturday and Sunday, near the enclave's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Angolan authorities, have so far declined to comment. The enclave in question accounts for half of the country’s oil output.
FLEC’s latest claims represent the second of its kind over a three-day period. On Friday, the group said nine Angolan soldiers had been killed and 14 had been wounded as a result of clashes during the latter half of last week.
FLEC had warned foreign workers to flee the enclave in Friday’s declaration, insisting that their lives would be in danger if they did not. “The situation remains uncertain in the Belize area in Cabinda, and remains very tense because of fighting with heavy weapons that took place from July 25-28,” the statement read.
The separatist group demands independence for their namesake enclave, which borders the Republic of Congo to the north and the DRC to the south.
The group has increased activity since its 88-year-old founder, Nzita Tiago, passed away in exile in France earlier this year.
Luanda and FLEC reached a peace deal in 2007, after which the group’s attacks largely subsided. The separatists’ latest attacks cast doubt on the long-term viability of the negotiated peace deal.
Low oil prices have led to thousands of layoffs by foreign companies operating in the enclave over the past few months, causing a rise in unemployment and poverty.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…