South African mercenaries in Zimbabwe, enroute to Equatorial Guinea?

Sunday night, an aircraft carrying 64 suspected mercenaries and “military cargo” was seized in Harare, Zimbabwe and impounded.

Reuters and the AP are both covering the story, and both have chosen to cover an odd angle: the U.S. State Department’s claim that the plane is not U.S. registered and not connected to the U.S. government.

News24 in Cape Town has a significantly more interesting take on the story. They offer speculation from the South African intelligence community that the plane was headed from South Africa to Equatorial Guinea, and that “The flight can possibly be connected with an imminent coup de etat in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.” The South African government expressed “concern” that some of the men aboard appear to be South Africans.

BBC reports that Equatorial Guinea is under a “coup alert”. A number of West African embassies have been surrounded to prevent anyone seeking refuge, and some foreigners staying at hotels were arrested.

It will be interesting for the African media watchers out there to see whether this story gets any additional attention in the non-African press if it turns out to involve only African actors – i.e., South African mercenaries coming to Equatorial Guinea – and none of those perpetually newsworthy Americans.

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