Equatorial Guinea Says Arrests ‘Mercenaries’

Equatorial Guinea Says Arrests ‘Mercenaries’

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

DAKAR, Senegal (Reuters) – Some 15 suspected mercenaries have been
arrested Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil
producer, after a widespread clampdown on foreign nationals, the
government said Tuesday. “Some 15 mercenaries have been arrested here in
Equatorial Guinea and it was connected with that plane in Zimbabwe. They
were the advance party of that
group,” Information Minister Agustin Nse Nfumu told Reuters.

Zimbabwe seized a U.S.-registered cargo plane Sunday evening which the
government has said was carrying 64 suspected mercenaries and a cargo of
military gear.

The minister said the group of 15 was made up of white South Africans,
black South Africans of Angolan origin, a German and others from
Kazakhstan and Armenia.

He said the suspected mercenaries had arrived in the former Spanish
colony, which borders Gabon and Cameroon, in December and were picked up
late Monday evening. He said some of them had been “presented to the
diplomatic corps.”

Equatorial Guinea said Monday its security forces had been chasing down
illegal immigrants since Saturday night and detained a number of people.
Residents said the swoop had been unusually severe with heavily armed
troops roaming the streets.

The clampdown comes amid growing tensions within President Teodoro
Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s family, whose members hold most top positions in
the country, and speculation among exiled opposition politicians that a
coup was in the offing.

Equatorial Guinea’s information minister said Obiang would address the
nation on state media at 8 p.m.