DR of Congo: UN mission tries to calm strife in eastern city

28 May 2004

United Nations peacekeeping patrols in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) eastern area, have been reinforced with units drawn from Goma and Kindu as battles rock the city centre for the third day running, the UN mission said today.

Armed elements loyal to Col. Jules Mutebutsi, suspended since March from his post as deputy commander of the 10th military region, have been fighting regular troops from the same region not only downtown but also in the Nguba, Ruzizi I, College al-Fajiri and Nyawera districts since the late afternoon on Wednesday, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said.

The noise of both small arms and heavy weapons has shaken the entire city, it said.

The exact number of casualties was not yet known, but at least five soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo (FARDC) were killed and 19 injured, while two of Colonel Mutebutsi's armed followers were killed.

Among the civilians, seven have died and six others injured. Many Bukavu stores and homes have been looted and the city has lost electricity.

MONUC said it deplored the new cycle of violence. It has been in touch with the Transitional Government in Kinshasa and the parties in Bukavu and has redoubled its efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement.


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