- Radio Malabo and the Equatoguinean television, both controlled by the government, yesterday announced the detention of more than ten "terrorists", of which four or five had been killed during the police action. The supposed "terrorists" were caught on the Island of Corisco at Equatorial Guinea's border with Gabon.
The Madrid-based Association for Democratic Solidarity with Equatorial Guinea (ASODEGUE) reported this in a statement yesterday. According to the pro-democracy group, Equatoguinean state-controlled media were talking of a major "anti-terrorist action" in Corisco Island. The supposed "terrorists" allegedly were caught smuggling illegal arms into the country.
The Equatoguinean government on the state broadcasters had explained the action, saying that the assumed "terrorist" belonged to a network that aimed at causing instability in the Central African dictatorship by introducing weapons from Gabon.
While one army soldier had been killed in the Corisco action, authorities assured of a generally calm situation and that the "anti-terrorist" action had been completed successfully. More than ten "terrorists" had been detained and four or five had been killed during the action. The situation was now under control, state television announced.
ASODEGUE, on the other hand, announced its unrest over these official reports from Equatorial Guinea. The Madrid group denounced that the images emitted by the regime's official broadcaster showed the prisoners; "all of the having been subject to torture and having their ears being cut off." Torture is common treatment by Equatoguinean armed forces and police.
As for now, the Malabo government has not published the names of the deceased or the other prisoners. According to reports from Malabo yesterday, there had not arrived any prisoners resulting from this "anti-terrorism action" in the capital. Unconfirmed reports hold that some of the suspects have been transported to police headquarters in Bata - Equatorial Guinea's second city and the capital of the mainland territory, Río Muni.
Sources in the Río Muni region - which includes Corisco Island and Bata - have reported about unusual frequencies of helicopter movements here. In particular around the southern coastal town of Cogo - about 50 kilometres east of Corisco Island, major security forces movements have been registered, also after the operation in Corisco allegedly had been terminated. Local sources do not rule out continued fighting on the island.
The island of Corisco is located at the mouth of the estuary of the Muni, in the continental region, at the territorial border to Gabon. It is the largest of a three-island archipelago, including Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico, which was one of the colonising power's (Spain) principal bases for the colonisation of the mainland. Parts of the archipelago are claimed by the Gabonese government in an ongoing court dispute.
After its heydays during colonisation, the archipelago slowly has lost its importance. Presently, only a few hundred people live permanently in Corisco Island, and even fewer on the other islands. Subsistence agriculture, fishing and trade between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are the main livelihoods of the islanders.
This could be altered after a final international court decision on the archipelago's status and after the final drawing of a maritime border in the estuary. Then, oil explorations will start in the region and major discoveries are very likely, given regional geology.
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