UN mission concerned at rebel troop movement in the east

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), MONUC, expressed grave concern on Wednesday about the movement of troops by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma), in violation of the 2 April peace agreement signed in Sun City, South Africa, by all parties to end the war in the DRC.

"We are greatly concerned by the movement of troops by RCD-Goma which has now positioned six brigades between Bukavu and Uvira," Patricia Tome, reports and information office for MONUC, told IRIN.

"According to MONUC military officials this represents some 10,000 men," she added.

Tome said that the 12th RCD-Goma brigade was present throughout Bunyatenge region as far as Mwenga, in violation of the Sun City accord and of an earlier agreement that the zone should be under the control of another rebel group, the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Kisangani-mouvement de liberation (RCD-K-ML). Tome said that fighting was taking place between RCD-Goma and RCD-K-ML forces at Mbingi.

Meanwhile, Tome said a MONUC team visited Burale, 70 km southwest of Bukavu, on Tuesday to investigate reports of clashes there on 6 April between RCD-Goma forces and fighters belonging to the Mundundu 40 (M40) militia.

"Most buildings were looted and burnt, including the health centre and schools, and the Congolese Red Cross confirmed the death of 16 people following the clashes between RCD-Goma and Mundundu 40, which lost three men," Tome said.

She said Burale was now under the control of the 101st RCD-Goma batallion and that the population had fled to take refugee in the area controlled by M40. The team was told girls had suffered sexual attacks, she said.

M40 formerly had close ties with RCD-Goma, but members had apparently been angered by the arrest by RCD-Goma of their leader.