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DRC: Government troops recapture Kalehe, deploy along border with Rwanda

Kinshasa, 15 June 2004 (IRIN) - Calm has returned to Kalehe in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) province of South Kivu after government troops regained control of the town from dissident soldiers, Sebastien Lapierre, a spokesman for the UN Mission in the country, known as MONUC, told IRIN on Tuesday.

The dissident troops, led by Gen Laurent Nkunda, had on 8 June retreated to Kalehe from the South Kivu capital of Bukavu, following a weeklong occupation of the latter town that left nearly 100 people dead.

Fighting had also taken place in Kamanyola, Roy Maheshe, a humanitarian affairs officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bukavu, told IRIN. "In Kamanyola, there's still much confusion despite the fact that government forces have announced they are in control," he said.

Fighting in the east of the country, which broke out between dissident forces and loyalist government troops on 26 May, had prompted many dissident soldiers to flee to Burundi, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced in a communiqué on Tuesday.

Government troops had now been deployed along the frontier, Maheshe said. "We have witnessed government troops being relocated from the town of Bukavu to the Rwandan border," Maheshe added.

He said the deployment, as well as Nkunda's threats to resume fighting if the government in Kinshasa failed to investigate reports of massacres of Banyamulenge, had created panic among Congolese Tutsis in Bukavu.

"People are buying more than usual in the market in order to stock up in case there is a continuation of hostilities," Maheshe said.

In response to the reports of massacres of Banyamulenge, the MONUC spokesman, Hamadoun Toure, told IRIN on Tuesday that a commission of inquiry, sent by the mission, "had said it had not seen a massacre in Bukavu". Toure noted that MONUC's investigation had not yet been able to extend to the western Rwandan province of Cyangugu, because Rwandan authorities had closed the border following accusations by DRC authorities that Rwanda was directly involved in the dissident soldiers' uprising.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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