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Congo Instability Continues as Army Units Clash in East

Rival units within Democratic Republic of Congo's supposedly unified national army have yet again clashed in eastern part of the country. Reports reaching the capital in Kinshasa suggested heavy fighting broke out on Saturday morning, but by late afternoon, the local based U.N. officials said that calm had returned to the volatile region, just south of the border town of Goma.

As if to underline an increasingly fragile political and military situation in eastern Congo, rival units within the newly unified Congolese army clashed in area some 35 kilometers south of the border town of Goma.

A Congolese security source said the fighting had been heavy and a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Goma said she had heard similar reports, but by the time a U.N. helicopter flew over the area late in the afternoon, calm appeared to have returned.

The U.N. and government sources said that the fighting was probably a continuation of in-fighting between elements of a local militia known as the Mai Mai, which has officially been integrated into the newly unified Congolese army.

There is no word on casualties yet.

The soldiers are from the mineral rich North Kivu province, which is ostensibly controlled by the new army following a peace deal that officially ended Congo's five year civil war. Over three-million people were killed in that war.

But there is still a lack of trust between the former foes, who continue to fight over military and economic control over the lawless region.

And fears that the region could slip back into war have been heightened during the last two weeks after neighboring Rwanda has apparently sent its troops into eastern Congo to hunt down Hutu rebels.

Many of the rebels took part in the 1994 genocide, killing some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, before fleeing into Congo.

Kinshasa reacted angrily to the threats and announced plans to send some 10,000 more troops to its border.

Both the United Nations and the United States have warned Rwanda and Congo not to renew the conflict in the region