Belgium and France are laying plans for the possible future evacuation of other Europeans from Zaire's southern Shaba Province following the bloody siege of Kolweizi there by rebels two weeks ago.
A Belgian Embassy spokesman, however, denied reports there already was an exodus of the 6,000 Europeans living in Lubumbashi, Shaba's capital. "There is no evacuation so far," he said.
Nonetheless, French and Belgian sources said many European families were sending their women and children to early vacations and two French transport planes went to Lubumbashi Sunday to pick up departing whites unable to get on the normal Air Zaire flight.
Reports reaching here from Shaba said many Europeans were uneasy about their future there without the presence of French and Belgian paratroopers.
French Legionnaires who freed 2,500 Europeans trapped in Kolwezi 10 days ago have now withdrawn to Lubumbashi pending their return to Corsica at a still unspecified date. There are also some Belgian paratroopers now stationed there to reassure the jittery European population.
The last 120 to 150 Legionnaires left behind in the sprawling mining center of Kolwezi were reported to have been pulled out yesterday and to have joined up with the main force in Lubumbashi. This means the defense of the city is now entirely in the hands of the Zairians who now have around 1,000 troops stationed there.
There are still small bands of rebels roaming near the town but there was no confirmation here of a report that up to 1,000 of them had retreated to the north of Kolwezi.
Informed sources here said the Belgians were preparing plans for the evaculation of about 2,000 women and children from three small mining towns in Shaba Province - Likasi, Kipushi and Kambove - but that the men would remain to keep the mines going.
With schools closing here over the next two weeks, there appear to be many European families, even some here in Kinshasa, that have decided to leave for vacation early because of the uncertain situation prevailing in Shaba Province.
Both the capital and the rest of the country, however, have so far remained calm no trouble breaking out elsewhere. The American construction company Morrison-Knudsen has closed down two other work sites along 11,000-mile transmission line because of incidents involving the Zairian Army. Some other companies with foreigners working in or near the Angolan border have evacuated them as a precautionary measure.
Yet, there is no general flight of the some 80,000 Europeans living and working in Zaire and the French and Belgian authorities appear anxious to avoid doing or saying anything to give that impressions.
Meanwhile, the latest figures of the death toll in Kolwezi from the International Committee of the Red Cross to reach here now stand at 240 Africans, including Pakistanis and Lebanese as well as Europeans.
Informed sources here said 30 more Europeans had been found executed at one site. There was no confirmation of a London press report that up to 40 Europeans taken away from kolwezi with the retreating rebels had been found shot.
The French Embassy said it appeared that between 30 and 40 French nationals were still missing but that it had no word of their whereabouts or whether they were alive or dead.
France has contacted Angola and is working through the International Red Cross to try and make contact with the rebels who have reportedly taken an undetermined number of Europeans with them back to their camps in Angola.