DR Congo

DR Congo/North Kivu: Discordant reports on new clashes in Rutshuru

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Heavy fighting took place also today in Kiwanja, in the northern outskirts of Rutshuru (around 90km north of Goma, provincial capital of North Kivu in east Democratic Republic of Congo) between Congolese pro-government armed groups and rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) of the pro-Rwandan renegade general Laurent Nkunda that for over a week controls the Rutshuru territory. According to MISNA sources contacted in the area, what yesterday appeared to be mere skirmishes lasted throughout the night with intense shootings and clashes house to house on the streets of Kiwanja, a village at the doors of Rutshuru that in the years became a suburban neighbourhood of the town. The clashes - confirmed also by a CNDP spokesman, who accused the Mayi-Mayi (former Congolese partisans at the time of the official conflict) of the PARECO (Congolese Patriot Resistants) of hiding among the residents - reportedly forced the peacekeepers of the local United Nations mission (MONUC) to remain in their base in Kiwanja. MONUC military spokesman Colonel Samba Tall, contacted by MISNA in Kinshasa, confirmed yesterday's and today's fighting in Kiwanja, however defining them as "minor episodes" and specifying that the violence "halted after the intervention of the peacekeepers". While the African and international diplomacies continue efforts for a negotiated solution to the latest crisis in North Kivu, the official truce between the CNDP and Congolese army appears to be holding, despite reports from local sources of troop movements in some areas of the province. Sources contacted in Goma refer that the new Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito, who arrived last night in the North Kivu capital to assess the situation, is due to return today to Kinshasa. Meanwhile, more reliable information begins to emerge on the humanitarian consequences of the recent fighting. "We will hold a meeting today to discuss the situation, but for the moment we have already counted some 60,000 displaced in the area around Goma. Half of these are 'new' displaced, while the others were civilians already living in emergency camps who were forced to flee again by the recent violence. Considering the displaced present in other areas, we can say that the tension of the past days forced some 90,000 people to flee", said to MISNA a humanitarian source contacted in Goma, who asked to remain anonymous.