Monday, October 27, 2008

Civilians flee fighting in DR Congo

UN troops have joined Congolese army forces in fighting soldiers led by "renegade general" (as the BBC calls him) Laurent Nkunda, north of Goma, a provincial capital in the eastern DR Congo.

Active engagement by forces of Monuc (as the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo is called) is unusual but not unprecedented. They joined the fighting as angry civilians fleeing Nkunda's advance attacked Monuc HQ in Goma, shattering windows.

An excerpt from the report:

"Gen. Nkunda has threatened to take control of Goma.

The UN accused his soldiers of firing rockets at two UN vehicles on Sunday, injuring several troops. A spokesman for Gen. Nkunda denied the rebels were involved.

His rebels attacked Goma last December. Hundreds of them died as the UN used helicopters under its mandate to protect civilians.

A peace deal was signed in Goma between the government and various rebel groups at the end of January. Although he signed the deal, Gen. Nkunda has always refused to disarm while Rwandan Hutu rebels still operate in the area [he claims to be protecting Tutsis in the region--LFC].

About 200,000 people fled their homes after fighting resumed in the area in late August. The United Nations says many refugees are malnourished and some are dying of hunger."
Also, the Spaniard who's been commanding Monuc forces has resigned "for personal reasons" after seven weeks on the job. A replacement is being sought.

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