By early 1980, FAPLA occupied all the small towns along the Kavango River as far north as Caiundo. Until the end of 1979, UNITA had applied a scorched earth policy against all towns and territory captured from FAPLA, but in line with a political decision by the organisation's leaders, it then became customary for UNITA to occupy and defend former FAPLA strongholds.
On 14 April, UNITA took Cuangar after driving a 900-strong FAPLA force out. This was the first major town captured by Savimbi's forces, and the taking of Cuangar marked the beginning of a new phase in UNITA's war, aimed at securing the entire southern region of Angola.
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