DR Congo

DR Congo/North Kivu: Rebels seize new villages, civilians fleeing

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The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) condemned the cease-fire violations by the rebel groups that in the past 48 hours extended the territory under their control, and the pillaging and violence by soldiers in different areas of North Kivu, in east DR-Congo. "The armed confrontations of the past days are exacerbating the humanitarian situation, causing panic among the civil population that has once again been forced to flee the fighting", said to MISNA Colonel Jean Paul Dietrich, MONUC military spokesman, specifying that fresh fighting took place yesterday between the self-defence Mayi Mayi militia groups (former Congolese partisans during the conflict 1998-2003) and other armed formations in Rwindi and the Kiwanja-Ishasha road, north of Goma, capital of North Kivu. According to the Congolese press, the rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), headed by the renegade general Laurent Nkunda, this morning seized control of other locations north of Rutshuru, in areas until a few days ago controlled by the Mayi Mayi. The CNDP troop movements once again forced the population to flee, with movements of civilians reported from the villages of Kisharo and Burumba in direction of the nearby town of Nyamilima and the border with Uganda. According to the parish priest of Nyamilima, numerous families have sought refuge in the Church and hospital, fearing the imminent arrival of the rebels. A CNDP spokesman specified to the UN Radio Okapi that the new movements do not represent a truce violation, attributing them to the army that is absent in the area. A claim in fact not deemed credible by the UN mission, which condemned the recent actions by Nkunda's men. "We are also verifying reports arriving from the north of the region regarding looting, though it appears clear that acts of violence were committed and that those responsible must be held accountable under the military code of conduct", added Dietrich. Meanwhile, some 100,000 people massed in Rutshuru, a main town under control of the CNDP rebels, today for aid distribution by the UN Child's Fund (UNICEF). An agency spokesman Jaya Murthy specified that they were handing out soap, blankets and water containers, supplies that can help combat diseases such as cholera, which is spreading in the area north of Goma with hundreds of cases reported.