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UN Calls for Cease-Fire as Congo Factions Continue Fighting


The United Nations has called on all factions involved in several days of fighting in eastern Congo to agree to a cease-fire. Clashes continued Monday as the United Nations ordered the government to clarify the confusion caused by troop deployments near the border with Rwanda and reports of arms distributions to civilians.

Clashes between armed factions within the Congolese army continued for a third straight day Monday, prompting the U.N. mission to call for the ceasefire.

After fighting south of the border town of Goma ended Saturday, former Rwandan-backed rebels clashed with pro-Kinshasa reinforcements that were sent toward the town of Kanyabayonga, some 180 kilometers farther north.

There was no immediate information on casualties, but a security official in Goma said the fighting was continuing Monday afternoon.

The decision to send more soldiers into eastern Congo has increased tensions in North Kivu, a province that borders Rwanda and is still dominated by a former rebel group that Rwanda backed during the five-year war in Congo.

Congo's President Joseph Kabila said he would send 10,000 soldiers to eastern Congo after Rwanda threatened to send troops into the country to hunt down Hutu rebels.

Rwanda says Congo and the United Nations have failed to disarm the rebels, so it has the right to do so before they attack. Rwanda has invaded Congo twice before, both times ostensibly to defeat the Hutu rebels.

The clashes highlight the confusion that continues in eastern Congo and the impact of continuing disputes with the country's army, which now includes former rebels. Congo's civil war ended a year and half ago.

As well as calling for the government to clarify the situation on the ground, the United Nations said it had received reports of armed groups handing out weapons to civilians and called for an immediate end to the practice.

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