Shaba invasion

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The Shaba invasion triggered a guerrilla war in the south of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo , in which the interests of the West and the Eastern Bloc countries in Central Africa clashed.

In March 1977 and May 1978 troops of so-called "Katanga gendarmes", actually rebels of the Front national de liberation du Congo (FNLC), advanced from Angola to Shaba (formerly Katanga) with the aim of detaching the resource-rich province of Zaire . The attackers from Angola, supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union , managed at times to control important cities - including Kapanga, Kolwezi and Mutshatsha - and to conquer large areas of the region. Above all, in 1978 they caused massacres among the population, including Europeans. The white survivors later managed to escape under dramatic circumstances and, with an international relief effort, to flee to Brussels .

On May 19, 1978, the French Foreign Legion ( 2e régiment étranger de parachutistes ) launched an action in what was then Zaire to free more than 2000 European hostages from the hands of the rebels. This liberation went down in the military history of the French Foreign Legion as the " Battle of Kolwezi ".

Militarily, the government in Kinshasa under Mobutu Sese Seko was only able to defend itself against the invaders with military aid and the use of foreign soldiers from Egypt , Belgium , France (Foreign Legion), Morocco and the USA as part of the military operation "Red Bean" and ultimately to the Force withdrawal.

The Organization for African Unity (OAU) condemned the invasion because the OAU charter calls for the territorial integrity of African states. Some of the "Katanga gendarmes" were veterans who were already involved in the separatist movement in Katanga in 1961 and in supporting the Moise Tschombé government against the Simba rebels in 1964. Many Katanga gendarmes fled to Angola after Mobutu came to power in 1965 and joined the MPLA of Agostinho Neto after the end of Portuguese rule in Angola ( see also: History of Angola ).


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