DRC forces capture, kill 500 rebels in six-week offensive

The Democratic Republic of Congo military said Saturday it had killed or captured more than 500 Rwandan Hutu rebels in the country’s east since launching an offensive against them six weeks ago.

The army has killed 354 rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and captured 151 in Sud-Kivu province, said Colonel Delphin Kahimbi.

Forty-three DRC soldiers have been killed and 29 hurt since the offensive began in mid-July, said Kahimbi, who commands army forces in Sud-Kivu.

Many of the rebels have fled to neighbouring Tanzania and Burundi, he said by telephone from the eastern city of Bukavu.

“The second phase will begin before September 10 in the Fizi district [near the Tanzanian border], the only one that was not addressed in the first phase,” said Kahimbi.

An estimated 5 000 to 6 000 FDLR rebel fighters had been in Nord and Sud-Kivu provinces, some having taken part in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi minority in Rwanda before crossing into DRC.

The head of the UN mission in DRC, Alan Doss, earlier this week said high-population areas in the region were now under government control. DRC forces have received logistical support from UN troops.

Last month, the UN refugee agency said about 56 000 Congolese had been forced from their homes after the government launched its campaign against the rebels on July 12. – AFP

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