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The official Angolan news agency says the body of the rebel commander, Jonas Savimbi, has been shown to reporters in the east of the country.

One of them, a journalist from Portuguese television, said there was no doubt he was dead. The reporter said that Savimbi's body was riddled with 15 bullet wounds.

Mr Savimbi led the rebel movement UNITA for more than 30 years and was the driving force behind one of Africa's longest civil wars. His UNITA rebels launched a war shortly after Angola achieved independence from Portugal in 1975.

It is not clear whether the group will continue the fight without him. Georges Valentim, UNITA's former "minister of culture" and a one-time close aide to Savimbi, has said no one within the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola is capable of succeeding the guerrilla leader.