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Mass Graves Found Along Namibian-Angolan Border

A human rights group released details today on the discovery of mass graves along the Namibian-Angolan border. The National Society for Human Rights says they're located in the northern Ohangwena region.

Phil ya Nangoloh, executive director of the group, spoke from Windhoek with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

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

"We have fairly good circumstantial evidence as to who is buried in these graves," he continued. "We have been told that [they came] from Cavango and Caprivi regions. That is precisely where over the 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."

The human rights group is appealing for international help to exhume and examine the remains, possibly identifying them and determining when and how they died. Ya Nangoloh says he hopes both the Namibian and Angolan governments will cooperate in the investigation.

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