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20,000 flee Kivu violence

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th February 2007 03:00 AM

FIGHTING between Congolese
army and Banyamulenge militias in eastern Congo’s district of Minembwe
(South Kivu) has driven over 20,000 civilians from their homes into
forests and mountain tops.

FIGHTING between Congolese
army and Banyamulenge militias in eastern Congo’s district of Minembwe
(South Kivu) has driven over 20,000 civilians from their homes into
forests and mountain tops.

BY EMMY ALLIO & AGENCIES
FIGHTING between Congolese
army and Banyamulenge militias in eastern Congo’s district of Minembwe
(South Kivu) has driven over 20,000 civilians from their homes into
forests and mountain tops.

Local Banyamulenge politicians claim that at least 50 soldiers on both sides have died in the fighting and over 100 civilians
have been killed.

The fighting pits two Banyamulenge officers against each other. Brig. Patrick Masunzu leads the government forces against his kinsman, Col. Bisogo’s militias
forces.

In the five-day fighting, witnesses
saw charred bodies in and outside burned houses in the areas of Mingine, Ilundu, Kalingi, Mitengo and Kamombo.
Local residents who called The
New Vision said there has been
no humanitarian assistance since fighting broke out on January 26, neither have they seen MONUC, the UN peacekeepers.

“People have been killed, houses
razed and animals looted by rampaging Congolese soldiers,” said Alex Bizimana.

“There are no aid agencies or
journalists on the ground to give
an account of events here.
MONUC forces cannot reachremote areas.”

MONUC military spokesperson
Lt. Colonel Didier Rancher confirmed that around January 26, hostilities broke out in Minembwe between the 112th
Brigade of the Congolese army and a dissident group of over 100 men, led by Major Michael Rukunda.
“The reason for the hostilities is not clear. Unfortunately there were many injuries and loss of life on both sides, with five dead and around 15 wounded,
although these figures cannot be
exactly confirmed,” he said.

Another Munyamulenge elder, Pastor Santos Kega, said the Congolese army has within its ranks Rwandan Hutu Interahamwe militias, accused of the
1994 genocide, who have beenbased in the South and North Kivu provinces since they fled Rwanda.

There is no independent confirmation
of this claim. But the fighting is likely to undermine peace talks in Kigali between a Tutsi warlord, Gen. Laurent
Nkunda and representatives of
Congolese President Joseph Kabila. The Banyamulenge militias owe allegiance to Nkunda.
“There are witnesses to prove
the presence within the Congolese
army of Interahamwe soldiers
from Uvira,” said Pastor Kega, who added that 600 herds of cattle had been looted by Congolese troops.

MONUC was urged to send a
patrol of blue helmets to the scene to prevent any further outbreak of violence.

20,000 flee Kivu violence

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