Angola arrests 13 dissident youths, including rapper

Angolan police officers arrest young people on September 19, 2013 at the Square of Independence in the center of Luanda, while they were calling for a demonstration against social injustices (AFP Photo/Estelle Maussion) (AFP/File)

Luanda (AFP) - Angolan police have arrested at least 13 young opposition activists, including rapper Luaty Beirao, who have campaigned against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the interior ministry said Sunday.

Activist groups, among them the Angolan Revolutionary Movement, claimed on social media platforms that as many as 20 people had been arrested when police raided a youth meeting in the heart of the capital Luanda on Saturday.

The interior ministry said its criminal investigation unit had arrested "13 Angolan citizens who were caught red-handed as they prepared to carry out acts aimed at disrupting public order and security in the country".

The Angolan police, which rarely issues statements on such arrests, could not be reached for further comment.

Among the detainees were rapper Beirao, a key figure of the Angolan opposition movement, and Manuel Nito Alves, who was jailed for two months in 2013 for printing anti-Dos Santos T-shirts.

Since March 2011, the youth movement has been calling for protests aimed at bringing down the president, who has ruled Angola for 35 years.

The activists also want better living conditions, in a country where demonstrations are banned and systematically repressed by police.

After Nigeria, Angola is Africa's second-biggest oil producer.

Since its civil war ended in 2002, Angola's economy has experienced sharp growth, but half the population still lives off less than $2 (1.8 euros) a day.