A gang of raiders, believed to be white ex-soldiers, has stolen about $400,000 worth of arms and amunition from the Zimbabwean Army's main barracks here.

The raid, carried out in leisurely fashion over two days during the Christmas holidays, was reported by police yesterday.

Police and military sources said the haul included more than 100 NATO-and Soviet-type rifles, scores of machine guns, more than 120 pistols, explosives and a million rounds of ammunition.

It is believed that the arms have already been flown out of the country from a remote airstrip, probably to South Africa where hundreds of whites formerly in the Rhodesian military have taken up residence.

The sources said five men took part, using bogus military requisition forms and keys to several armories in the barracks -- which formerly served as the headquarters of the elite all-white Rhodesian Light Infantry.

Many whites are still in the Army, so the presence on the base of five whites, wearing camouflage uniforms, did not draw special attention.

The operation had all the earmarks of the special Rhodesian military outfits that attacked guerrillas in Zambia and Mozambique during the seven-year war for black-majority rule. They took delight in exposing the vulnerability of the neighboring countries to Rhodesian attacks.

Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has charged that thousands of soldiers and auxiliaries loyal to the former government of Bishop Abel Muzorewa have been recruited by South Africa.