Africa

DRC rebels take new town, says UN

Staff Reporter

Rebels in eastern DRC have captured a new town in an area where they had clashed with pro-government rebels, the UN said on Friday.

Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have captured a new town in an area where they had clashed with pro-government rebels, the United Nations mission in the country said on Friday.

“There is a small CNDP presence in Ishasha,” Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, spokesperson for the UN mission in DRC (Monuc), said, referring to members of the National Congress for the Defence of the People rebel group.

“A Monuc patrol is in the process of travelling to the location,” he said.

The moves came as UN special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo was set to meet this weekend with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and rebel chief Laurent Nkunda in a new peace bid.

The town is located along the Ugandan border, about 130km north-east of Goma, the capital of DRC’s Nord-Kivu province, where the conflict between rebels led by Nkunda and government forces is centred.

The rebels said on Thursday they had taken control of the town.

In taking Ishasha, the rebels have now advanced more than 30km north in less than 24 hours.

About 13 000 people have fled across the border to Uganda over the last two days to flee fighting in the area, the UN’s refugee agency said.

The rebels now control two Nord-Kivu border post towns on the Ugandan frontier. The towns are significant sources of revenue for provincial authorities because of customs duties.

The other town under their control is Bunagana, 60km north-east of Goma.

Tensions between Kinshasa and Nkunda boiled over in August, propelling more than 250 000 people towards refugee camps or into hiding in the bush, beyond the reach of aid agencies.—AFP

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