DR Congo

DRC: Fighting near Bunia prompts thousands to flee, many feared dead

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KINSHASA, 28 February (IRIN) - At least 2,000 people have fled fighting that has erupted in the region between Bunia, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the border of neighbouring Uganda, Thomas Lubanga, the leader of the Union des patriotes congolais rebel group controlling the city, told IRIN on Friday.
He said reports indicated that about 760 people - primarily civilians - had died. However, these figures have not been independently confirmed.

According to Lubanga, the displaced have come primarily from Bogoro and Tshiayi, respectively 20 km and 15 km southeast of Bunia.

"There has been violent fighting since Monday in Bogoro, and this morning in an attack that we repelled in Tshiayi," Lubanga said.

He alleged that the attacks originated from an area of coalition forces backed by the Forces armees congolaises, with arms and munitions supplied by the Ugandan army.

Lubanga said he also suspected the involvement of the Front pour l'integration et la pacification de l'Ituri, a rival militia created earlier this month.

Although he said he had no information on losses suffered by his opponents, Lubanga reported that his forces had lost eight men, while 12 were wounded.

He went on to warn that the already difficult living conditions for residents of Bunia, including many thousands of displaced who had sought refuge there from earlier fighting, would become even worse with the thousands of new arrivals.

[ENDS]

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