Umtali Hit By Rockets (ca. 1978)

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This is a digitised version of an article printed on the front cover of  Rhodesia’s The Herald newspaper on November 8, 1964.

Herald Reporter

UMTALI was subjected to a short, intensive attack late last night when 20 – 30 mortar bombs or rockets (or both) and automatic smallarms fire were fired at the city from an unknown position. 

The attack lasted from 10.23 to about 10.30. There were a number of hits, from the city centre to the outskirts, but by early morning it was reported that only two people were in hospital with minor injuries. 

A Combined Operations Headquarters spokesman said in Salisbury that the attack was put in from the Cecil Kop area but he could not say whether it came from Mozambique. 

Some retaliation was made into the general area of the attack position. 

Cecil Kop is the highest point in the Umtali Heights mountain range overlooking the city and is just inside Rhodesia. Explosions were seen on the mountain. 

A house in the BSA Police camp single quarters near the city centre received a direct hit and was burnt out. It unoccupied at the time and no one was hurt. 

Damaged

The roof of the Drill Hall just off Main Street was peppered with shrapnel. In parts of the suburbs houses shook and a car was damaged outside a block of flats. 

The city’s civil defence system mobilised and began receiving reports from the multiple areas. A spokesman said it was impossible to give an overall situation report. 

The upper floors of the Cecil Hotel in the city centre were evacuated and residents and staff moved into the ground floor and basement. 

“There was no panic.” said the hotel manager.”

People moved calmly. An hour or so later they were back in their rooms.”

Mrs Rona Theron of Kingsley Fairbridge Street said that soon after the attack two pieces of shrapnel pierced the front windows of her home and another two through the front door. 

A piece of shrapnel was found on the bunk of one of her children, who had sheltered underneath. 

It is the third such attack on Umtali. A 4 a.m. on August 12, 1976 a mortar and rocket attack was put in from Mozambique causing some damage but no serious injuries. In November of the same year three rockets were fired into the city from Mozambique, also without causing casualties. 

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