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DR Congo army attacks FDLR rebels from different fronts in North Kivu

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By Gema

KINSHASA, Dec 17, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo's armed forces (FARDC) in the last three days launched attacks from different fronts against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and their local allies.

The FARDC announced the military advance in the ongoing Kimia ll operations in the eastern province of North Kivu in a communique released on Tuesday.

North Kivu, which borders Rwanda, has suffered years of tensions since the FDLR fled into the mineral rich province after committing the 1994 Rwanda massacre. The Rwandan rebels have to operate in small groups after being routed in the joint military crackdown of the two countries early in the year. They occasionally make trouble in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.

According to the latest military communique, there are at least 10 FDLR soldiers killed and many more captured in Masisi, Walikale and Lubero areas.

The communique specified seven FDLR rebels killed in the operations on Sunday in Lwibo and Lukweti regions, where four others were captured and lots of arms and materials seized.

Three FDLR rebels were killed in shootouts on Monday in Kilambo, which borders Masisi and Walikale, including one of the FDLR political leaders, whose name was not revealed.

On the side of the FARDC, one soldier was killed and another was injured during the confrontations, the military said.

The UN mission in Congo (MONUC) confirmed the attacks by the FARDC in North Kivu, noting that the regular army launched a counter-offensive against an FDLR-led coalition, including those who had deserted the FARDC and a group called the Allied Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo.

In the northern part of the province, the FARDC are said to have taken back control of Tshondo along Butembo-Kyavinyonge road. Tshondo served as the base of Mai Mai of La Fontaine, the militia who resisted the integration into national army and coalesced with the FDLR.

The operation is going on in this district situated between Lubero and Rutshuru territories towards Lake Edward, the communication unit of Kimia ll operations said.

Other attacks took place in Nyabiondo and Kashebere. During the assaults, nine FARDC soldiers were injured, of whom seven were evacuated to Goma for treatment at the MONUC hospital.

In Kinshasa, Communication Minister Lambert Mende Omalanga confirmed the counter-attacks launched three days ago by the FARDC.

Mende said more than 10 FDLR combatants were killed and 28 combatants captured.

"Among them, 17 have already been sent to Kinshasa and 11 others are currently receiving treatment in Goma due to their health status. They will also be transferred to Kinshasa as soon as possible," he told a press briefing on Tuesday.

Mende termed as disgraceful the fact that the Rwandan rebels as well as the Dongo insurgents also being tracked down by the FARDC are getting support from certain people living in Kinshasa, who send them food and other materials.

The FDLR and Mai Mai coalition launched an attack on the FARDC on Sunday in Walikale, killing one civilian and injuring a number of others. The rebels also looted property, local officials reported.

The rebel attacks forced the inhabitants of 11 villages to flee and take refuge in the bush.