Helicopter-borne commandos and jet fighters from Zimbabwe-Rhodesia attacked two nationalist guerrilla targets around the Zambian capital this morning, killing at least 11 persons and wounding 32 others, many of them Zambians.
It was the second such daring attack inside Lusaka in the past 2 1/2 months and the first since Bishop Abel Muzorewa took over as the first black prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
As dawn broke over the city, five Zimbabwe-Rhodesian helicopters flew into one of the northern suburbs and for 40 minutes rained gunfire and grenades down on a house described by a Salisbury war communique as the intelligence headquarters of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) army.
At the same time, four British-built Hawker-Hunter jets bombed and strafed a guerrilla camp at Chikumbi, 12 miles north of Lusaka, already badly damaged once before in a similar raid last October.
However, a spokesman for Nkomo denied that the home that was attacked was serving as the guerrillas' intelligence headquarters and said the bombed camp was simply a hog and corn farm.
A Zambian government spokesman said 11 persons were killed in the latest raid, but hospital sources put the figure at between 22 and 26. Many of the dead and wounded reportedly were Zambians who were walking through the suburb on their way to work when they were caught in the fighting.
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia later reported that one of its commandos was killed and another wounded, their highest announced casualties since the long series of raids on nationalist targets inside Zambia first begun last October.
The attack comes just one month before the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Lusaka for the opening of the Commonwealth conference which begins Aug. 1. There were fears here it would spark renewed debate in the British press about whether her visit should be canceled and the conference transferred to another capital because of the uncertain security here.
Zimbabwe nationalist sources said the new raids showed clearly that there was no real change in the policy or leadership of Rhodesia despite the formal political demise of white former prime minister Ian Smith. He serves in the Muzorewa government as a minister without portfolio, but he is reported to be taking an active hand in military matters.
Western diplomatic sources here said the latest Rhodesian attack would complicate the bid by Muzorewa to gain international recognition for his month-old government and stiffen African and Commonwealth opposition to it. So far no country has extended diplomatic recognition to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
It appeared likely the raid into Lusaka was at least partly connected to the hard bargaining between Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and Muzorewa over the terms for reopening a road between the two neighboring coutnries to ease the backlog of vital imports for Zambia now piled up in Rhodesia and South Africa.
News agencies quoted sources in Salisbury as saying the government there was seeking an assurance from Zambia it would halt the infiltration of nationalist guerrillas into Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in return for its agreement to reopen a road link, probably the one across the bridge at Victoria Falls.
Zambia closed its border with Rhodesia in the early 1970s but was finally forced by economic necessity to renew its use of the southern rail route running through Rhodesia beginning last October.
A Zambian government spokesman said the latest Rhodesian attack would not change Zambia's policy of total support for the guerrillas.
The new black president of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, Josiah Gumede, said in a speech marking the opening of the first black-dominated parliament yesterday that his government sought peace and harmony with all its neighbors but warned that it would not hesitate to take preemptive action to protect its borders against guerrilla infiltrators.
Today's raid into Lusaka appeared to have involved more fighting than the first one on April 13, when commandos destroyed Nkomo's home just behind the presidential state home.
Hundreds of startled Lusaka residents were awakened at 6:30 a.m. by gunfire and watched the strange battle between commandos firing from the five helicopters and guerrillas shooting back from the home in the Roma neighborhood.
Zambian efforts to defend Lusaka once again failed. About an hour after the Rhodesians had left a Zambian jet fighter and later a spotter plane appeared. But both drew heavy fire from the ground apparently from nervous guerrillas who mistook the two aircraft for Rhodesian ones.
Guerrillas already have shot down two Zambian air force jets in the Lusaka area. CAPTION: Map no caption, By Dave Cook - The Washington Post