Angola's Crackdown on Diamond Smuggling Ends in Violence

World News
08/10/2018 12:58

A nationwide crackdown on diamond shop owners and potentially illicit dealers in Angola last week led to four people being killed and seven injured in the Lunda Norte province bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. The incidents occured on the margins of a police operation targeting foreign nationals suspected of diamond smuggling, media said last Friday. The violence erupted as police rounded up "illegal aliens" and seized around 3,000 diamonds, 150 vehicles and over $80,000 in cash. Angolan daily O Pais reported that 103 foreign nationals had been detained in the recent operation.

Three Angolans were hacked to death with machetes by foreign nationals they had accused of smuggling and an Angolan was shot dead, the local TPA television said. "Many foreigners who engage in illegal activities in the country result in enormous sums of money coming into circulation.... This situation cannot be tolerated in an orderly country," said police spokesperson Antonio Bernado. Officers arrested around 800 people as part of the operation including Congolese, Lebanese, Malians and Nigerians, Bernardo said. Provincial government spokesperson Armando Cipema said police had targeted "illegal aliens in the country, especially in houses bought with diamonds."

Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported that three Lebanese nationals arrested in Angola have been released, a Lebanese diplomat confirmed Friday. With around 2,000 Lebanese expatriates residing in the African nation, the diplomat denied that the arrested Lebanese nationals were personally targeted. “Employees from all nationalities were arrested and the government asked diamond shop owners over a month ago to sort out their legal and business paperwork.” He added: “Angola is a country where your rights are respected and it is organized. It’s not like what you may think.” Angola elected Joao Lourenco as president last year, who has since worked to combat corruption. The Lebanese businessman in Angola said police were confiscating the stores’ diamonds and sealing them in bags using red candle wax pending investigations. “The government will then decide what to do with the diamonds depending on if [the owners] are proven to be guilty or not,” the businessman said.