Brazzaville (AFP) - Angolan soldiers have invaded the southwest of the neighbouring Republic of Congo in pursuit of rebels and allegedly taken Congolese troops hostage, local sources said Thursday.
Last weekend, the Angolan troops entered the region of Kimongo, a main town in the Niari district, and took charge of five places including the border post, a local resident and a journalist told AFP.
"They have been there since Sunday and claim they have come to occupy an area that belongs to them. We may consider this as a problem of them not knowing where the frontier lies," said Christian Samuel Sansa, an officer in the paramilitary police based in Dolisie, Congo's second military region.
Congolese troops who were despatched from Dolisie to Kimongo were reported to have been kidnapped and led over the border into Angola.
"Our soldiers were taken hostage. Up to this morning (Thursday), things haven't changed, so they are still in the hands of the Angolan army," said Hermann Bouess, another local journalist.
"Among the arrested soldiers, there are a colonel and a captain," Bouess said, adding that the "Angolan troops were pursuing (rebels) of the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) on to Congolese territory, which they use as a rear base."
Colonel Sansa confirmed this report, but could not say how many Congolese soldiers had been taken, while a source in the military general staff refused to comment on the affair.
"The consuls of Angola in Dolisie and of the Congo in Angola are talking to the respective authorities of the two countries to find a way out of this situation," Sansa told AFP.
Angola's Cabinda province is an exclave that borders on Congo to the north, while being separated from the rest of Angola to the south by a sliver of territory belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Though small, Cabinda accounts for much of Angola's oil production, which makes the country the second largest exporter in Africa. The FLEC and other separatist rebel movements have fought Angolan troops since independence in 1975.
The Congo Republic, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a non-aggression pact and in 1997, Angolan troops helped President Denis Sassou Nguesso to fight his way back to power in a civil war.