The first government offensive came in the first days of June . They came on foot and with armored cars with heavy mortar attacks. They bombed, burned and blew up everything, but they missed us that time. They went right past us."
Guerrilla Maj. Eugenio Ngolo was talking about the first offensive of combined Cuban and Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola forces against the UNITA inusrgents.
Ngolo said he had arrived at this base in central Angola a month before the offensive, after the UNITA guerrillas retreated from their last urban stronghold, Cago Coutinho, in eastern Angola, March 13.
"When we arrived here," Ngolo continued, "We immediately began to make attacks on the Benguela railroad," two day's march north from his guerrilla forest base.
"They were surprised," Ngolo said. "They didn't know that we were here. They thought we had been defeated."
But in October, the Cuban and Popular Movement forces came after the guerrillas again.
"They had many more soldiers, armored cars and trucks that time. And they came in helicopters. We weren't expecting that. One morning they just dropped from the sky right next to the base."
There was nothing for his 200 guerrillas to do but run, Ngolo said. "We scattered in all directions and ran and ran and ran," he remembered. "We stayed in the thick bush, but they even came after us at night. They dropped flares with parachutes and tried to push us into ambushes they had set up in front of us. It was a nightmare."
For a week, he said, he and the other 20 guerrillas he was running with could not stop for food - just for a short rest or quick nap. "Half of us would sleep and the others would keep watch," he said. "We'd jump up and move away as quietly as possible when we heard them searching in the bushes for us."
Close to starvation and weak from a lack of food after 10 days, they grew careless. They walked into a trap.
"We went into this village to get some food, but we didn't know they had encircled three sides of the village during the night. They knew we were hungry and had been waiting for us," Ngolo said.
The Cuban and government troops began closing the eastern loop of the trap, Ngolo said, and, mistaking each other for guerrillas, began to fire at one another. "It was the first time we knew they were there," Ngolo said. "Soldiers were coming into the village from all directions and there was only a small gap on the eastern side. I ran for it."
Ngolo and six other guerrillas, firing as they ran, made it through the gap, he said. The other 14 guerrillas were caught and killed. The survivors ran south into the bush.
Shortly afterward, helicopters flew over their heads and descended into the village. "They killed all the peasants in the village for being willing to feed us and then burned it."