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Congo Says Army Fighting Rwandans, Not Own Units


The Democratic Republic of Congo says recent fighting in eastern Congo was the result of a Rwandan attack and not internal army clashes. Even though Rwanda denies it is involved in fighting, U.N. workers say tens of thousands of civilians have fled the region.

The Democratic Republic of Congo denies claims that heavy fighting in the east of the country during the past two days was the result of mutinous elements of the army attacking each other.

Government spokesman Henri Mova Skanyi says the clashes in Kanyabayonga, 180 kilometers north of Goma, were the result of an attack by the Rwandan army. He says Rwandan troops are in Congo to fight alongside former rebels Rwanda had backed during Congo's civil war.

Rwanda has denied the spokesman's claims, saying the fighting is purely an internal problem for Kinshasa to resolve.

The clashes in North Kivu follow the Kinshasa government's attempts to redeploy thousands of soldiers near the border with Rwanda. Earlier, Rwanda threatened to send its army into Congo to hunt down Hutu rebels.

U.N. sources say they believe the Congo government reinforcements were forced to retreat to the north, the direction they had come from.

A five-year war in Congo was officially declared over last year, but the transitional Kinshasa government is struggling to lead the country to elections, due next June. Army integration of the former rebels has failed to take off, leaving several-hundred-thousand gunmen roaming around the country, largely out of control.

An international aid agency last week reported that the war and subsequent insecurity has killed 3.8 million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

Aid workers in Congo say the 35,000 residents of Kanyabayonga fled their homes as a result of the recent fighting, adding to an already dire humanitarian crisis.

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