Windhoek - Namibian security forces said they killed three secessionists in a shootout early on Thursday, after uncovering a "terrorist hideout" in the northeastern Caprivi Strip.

The ministry said that security forces "killed three terrorists" during an operation at the village of Sibbinda.

"The security forces uncovered a secret terrorist hideout in the Sibbinda area where 10 terrorists were hiding, and this led to an exchange of fire resulting in three Caprivi Liberation Army terrorists being killed and two captured."

Sibbinda is about 60 kilometres west of Katima Mulilo, the main town in the Caprivi region.

"Among the dead terrorists is Alex Chainda, a former member of the Namibian Defence Force. War materials were also captured, among which were seven assault rifles and one shotgun," added the ministry.

It said security operations were continuing in the area "and no stone will be left unturned in the fight against the remaining pockets of these bandits".

It warned the rebels to hand themselves over to the authorities or "be prepared to face extinction".

At least 14 people were killed when secessionists attacked Katimo Mulilo, about 1 200 kilometres northeast of the capital Windhoek, on August 2.

The secessionists, members of the shadowy Caprivi Liberation Army, are seeking independence for the Caprivi Strip, a narrow finger of Namibian territory bordered by Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Hundreds of people were rounded up after the attack. All but 85 of them, who have been charged with high treason, have reportedly been released.

Defence force chief of staff Martin Shalli said that security forces had uncovered the rebel hideout during a routine operation in the Caprivi.

"Of course we know people are hiding there," he said, adding that operations to flush out rebels in the region would "absolutely" continue.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in Geneva on Thursday that an ICRC delegation had visited 112 of those rounded up after the Katima Mulilo attack.

The defence ministry allowed the Red Cross to see the detainees several times, starting on August 17, at three locations.

The visits were conducted under Red Cross rules, including the absence of minders.

Human rights groups have alleged that the Namibian security forces have taken advantage of emergency rules to commit rights abuses against suspects.

Among those being detained is Geoffrye Mwilima, a former opposition member of parliament who is in hospital recovering from a broken jaw, sustained after security forces allegedly beat him.

Police claim Mwilima has direct links with the leader of the separatists, Mishake Muyongo.

Muyongo has been in exile in Denmark since fleeing Namibia in May. He is wanted for treason.

Earlier on Thursday, Shalli said that authorities are investigating links between the secessionists and Angola's Unita rebels.

Seven members of Unita (the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) were deported in mid-August after their arrest after the attack on Katima Mulilo.

"They were Unita people, there is no question about it. They said it themselves," said Shalli.

It is unclear, however, how they were linked to the attack.

He said that defence authorities are investigating whether the seven were in Namibia as individuals or on behalf of Unita.

"(The secessionist group) got some weapons and equipment from Unita people - we are not sure whether it was from the movement or from Unita bandits selling weapons. But they do have a connection," concluded Shalli. - Sapa-AFP