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UN Says New Fighting in Eastern Congo Causing Panic

The United Nations says new fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has caused panic among civilians.

In a statement, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo says rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda broke a cease-fire late Tuesday by attacking members of the pro-government Mai Mai militia near the towns of Kinyando and Kwwenda.

It says the fighting sent civilians fleeing along highways in search of safety.

The U.N. mission condemned the rebels' actions and demanded they comply without conditions to the cease-fire, which the rebels initiated late last month.

The mission also reports that government troops have looted the village of Bulotwa north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. It called on the DRC military to prosecute the perpetrators.

Government troops and rebels have clashed repeatedly in the eastern DRC since August, following the collapse of a January peace deal.

Aid agencies in the country say the fighting has displaced some 250,000 people since August, and separated family members.

The agencies are working to get food to the displaced and move them to places of safety.

The rebels in eastern DRC say they are fighting to protect the area's Tutsi minority from Rwandan Hutu militias that entered the region after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.