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CAB025 / Zambia / STATUS ON HOSTAGE SITUATION AT AMESP OFFICE

STATUS ON HOSTAGE SITUATION AT AMESP OFFICE

¶1. (S) Summary: Profile is an update of the ongoing hostage situation taking place at the AMESP office building in Chavuma, Zambia. Advisement for action follows. END SUMMARY.

SITREP
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¶2. (S) Last Tuesday, several gunmen from the militia known as God’s Resistence Army (GRA) stormed an AMESP (African Medical Educational Support Program) storage facility in the city of Chavuma. In the initial assault, three security guards were killed as well as one AMESP employee who was attempting to flee. Following the assault, the militia barricaded all entrances and attached explosive devices to seventeen employees.

¶3. (S/NF) Upon the arrival of the Zambia Police Service, the militia stated that unless the AMESP ceased all operations in Zambia, the hostages would be killed. In past incidents, the GRA has claimed that AMESP is a front for weapons trafficking into Africa.Due to a lack of resources from local law enforcement, federal officers were called in to help contain the situation.

UPDATE
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¶4. (S) All initial attempts at negotiation quickly dissolved (COMMENT: Most federal law enforcement agencies in Zambia lack the training and experience to properly handle hostage negotiation. END COMMENT.) On the fifth day of the situation, federal authorities attempted an assault on the rear of the building but were quickly met with gunfire and rocket propelled grenades. Three officers were killed and five wounded in the failed assault. Additionally,the GRA executed two hostages in an effort to punish law enforcement for the attack.

¶5. (S) Following the failed assault, the GRA ended all contact with law enforcement negotiators.Prior to doing so, they stated that they would destroy and contaminate all of the food and medicine in the facility. It is estimated that the facility contains upwards of 3,000 mt of food, medicine, and supplies.

COMMENT
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¶6. (C) This office strongly advises immediate US intervention to put an end to the hostage situation in Chavuma. The threat of contamination to the much-needed supplies poses an immediate threat to US interests in the region.Due to political sensitivities, it is of the utmost importance that all actions remain black. Ref. #A6878331 (sent separately) includes blueprints for the building as well as a direct link to live feeds inside the structure and from satellites. Hostiles have been marked. END COMMENT.

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