Army headquarters announced today that Rhodesian forces have pushed farther into Mozambique and have "overrun and destroyed" two more guerrilla bases in the two-day-old gound and air raid across the border.
Military communiques have announced that 41 querrillas have been killed in the two-day raid. There have been no casualties among Rhodesian forces so far, according to the government.
The current strike may be the most significant action to date in terms of war material destroyed, which Rhodesian forces claim is the main objective of the operations. The loss of administrative bases would also be a serious setback for the black insurgents, who are fighting the white government of Prime Minister Ian Smith.
In Mozambique, defense spokesman claimed today that Rhodesian forces have also hit a location in northwestern Mozambique near Chioco in Tete Province, about 50 miles from the Rhodesian border. The statement added that two fighter planes and a helicopter, which allegedly dropped napalm bombs on Chioco for about nine hours, had been shot down.
Rhodesian headquarters categorically denied the claims.
In the last punitive strike across the border, in November, the Rhodesians admitted hitting several camps in only one area of Mozambique, but it was later learned that forces had struck in two sections in the north and south, including both Chioco and Mapai.
Informed sources said here that about 500 Rhodesian commandos and support troops - with air support - are involved in the operation that has been confirmed by army headquarters. The operation destroyed three guerrilla camps along Mozambique's southwestern border since the first strike at dawn Sunday, the sources said.
The followup today penetrated 60 miles deep to an area near Mapai, hitting what the brief communique described as "the terrorist headquarters and main supply base."
"The base, which was the controlling center for all incursions into southeastern Rhodesia, was destroyed, together with large quantities of weapons, ammunition, explosives and equipment," the statement said.
The raid was launched yesterday when security forces began tracking guerrilla groups that have penetrated Rhodesia in increasing numbers in the past week, military sources claimed. It was believed here that the forces are still in Mozambique tonight.
The current operation is the third into Mozambique since last August. The Rhodesian government says several hundred people have been killed in the raids. A fourth raid against anti-Smith government rebels was conducted earlier this month into Botswana.
The comparatively low casualty figures from the current strike indicates that the Soviet-supported guerrillas may be on the alert for raiders.
However, the fact that the Rhodesians have apparently suffered no losses indicates that the guerrillas from the Zimbabwe African National Union liberation movement have not strengthened their defenses, despite previous attacks in the same areas.
The strike comes at a sensitive time, as a four-member Anglo-American "consulting team" is attempting to work out a new set of proposals to settle Rhodesia's 11-year-old constitutional crisis. The action is certain to lead to new condemnation from Mazambique and the liberation movements, which could threaten delicate negotiations.
Ironically, the Rhodesian government sent a message to neighboring Zambia just two weeks ago via the British government warning that any attacks from guerrillas based in Zambia could lead to preemptive raids by Rhodesia on that country.
Rhodesian officials said then that the message was sent to avoid creating new tension that would hurt settlement talks.