The Battle of Quifangondo occurred on November 10, 1975, the day before the MPLA declared Angola's independence from Portugal. It can be considered as the decisive battle in the Angolan decolonization conflict 1974/75 and as the first battle in the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002). By that time, the MPLA under Agostinho Neto had gained control of the Angolan capital Luanda while the two rival liberation movements, FNLA and UNITA, fought for a foothold in the capital themselves before independence could be declared.
The FNLA-force under Holden Roberto, was made up of 1,000 fighters, 120 mostly white Portuguese Angolan soldiers under the command of Colonel Santos e Castro, two Zairian Army battalions led by the 7th Battalion's commander Colonel Mamina Lama and about 50 South African troops under the command of Brigadier General Ben Roos. Attacking from north-eastern Angola, the FNLA defeated the MPLA at Porto Quipiri before marching to Quifangondo on their way to Luanda. South African forces had entered Angola from Southwest Africa, occupied all of southern Angola and handed it over to UNITA. By November 10 they had come within a few hundred km of the capital.
Less than 24 hours before independence, Roberto, ignoring advice that a frontal assault would not work, decided to launch an attack against Luanda.The cities defences were put up around the strategically located village of Quifangondo, about 10 km to the east of Luanda.
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... longer-ranged Cuban BM-21 rocket launchers, and therefore could not influence the result of the battle ...
... On the eve of the battle, Cuba launched a large scale intervention (Operation Carlota) on behalf of the MPLA and airlifted first special forces to Luanda ... night of Angola's independence, November 10, at his base in Ambriz, about 70 miles (110 km) north of Quifangondo where he had maintained his command in the previous several months ... When Roberto arrived near Quifangondo the next morning, he discovered some of his forces in disarray retreating north-east in fragmented groups ...
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