Rebel forces in eastern DR of Congo mostly withdrawn from Bukavu – UN

Rebel forces in eastern DR of Congo mostly withdrawn from Bukavu – UN

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Two rebel forces have largely withdrawn from the eastern university town of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but about 100 from one group have remained in town and the second force is stationed around the nearby airport north of the town, the United Nations spokesman said today.

Two rebel forces have largely withdrawn from the eastern university town of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but about 100 from one group have remained in town and the second force is stationed around the nearby airport north of the town, a United Nations spokesman said today.

The two forces seized the town as the organization of the national military in the area collapsed last week and some DRC soldiers took refuge in the relatively small UN force.

The latest reports from the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said about “100 of Colonel Jules Mutebutsi’s troops are back in Bukavu, having left the cantonment site they were in outside the town,” UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told journalists at the daily UN briefing in New York.

No other troop movements were noted, he said, and a student protest was called off.

“General Laurent Nkunda has pledged to the UN mission that he does not intend to return to Bukavu and will continue to relocate to areas close to and in Goma, from where his forces originated. However, his forces continue to be around Kavumu, the airport north of Bukavu,” Mr Eckhard said.

Meanwhile, MONUC chief William Lacy Swing was in constant contact with President Joseph Kabila and his cabinet in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, in an effort to restore government authority in Bukavu.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed deep sadness at the tragic deaths yesterday of two UN peacekeepers near Rutshuru in the eastern DRC after their convoy came under fire, Mr. Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan “extends his most sincere condolences to the Government and people of South Africa, and to the families of the bereaved,” he said.

MONUC said it was investigating the incident, in which at least 11 other peacekeeping personnel were injured.