DR Congo

DR Congo: Nord Kivu - More fighting between rebels and army

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There has been more fighting today in the area of Tongo (in the Rutshuru area, 50 km. north of Goma) between the regular Congolese army and units from the CNDP rebels led by Laurent Nkunda. Colonel Jean Paul Dietrich, the military spokesman for the UN mission in RD Congo (MONUC) told MISNA that the fighting is taking place in the village of Kabizo and that it started in the morning: "we do not have details on the clashes, nor do we have a death-toll, but the fighting, which, has been protracted for hours, involves heavy artillery" said Dietrich. Col. Dietrich also confirmed the news related to the extent of the looting perpetrated by the regular Congolese army: "the troops were responsible of intimidation and violence against the civilian population, starting last night and continuing in several areas north of Goma". The areas of greatest activity have been the Rutshuru and especially Kanyabayonga, Kaina and Kirumba. On account of logistical and operational reasons, yesterday, the regular forces were ordered to back up the frontline about 40 km further south "and several soldiers, upset by the decision, started to fire shots in the air looting shops" said the spokesman. The violence was also accompanied by shots "and all this has contributed to fueling panic among the civilian population, which was already tested by the rebels' skirmishes and the fighting of the past few weeks" said Dietrich. Local radio stations, moreover, said that =BE of the inhabitants in the area in question were refugees, seeking shelter in the neighboring forests, while MONUC helicopters are already on site to try to re-establish control over the situation in the three areas, where some NGO representatives are based and which MONUC is trying to evacuate."