News / Africa

Risk of ‘Ethnic War’ in Eastern Congo Town

Nick Long
Up to 100,000 people have fled a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where government forces have been battling a militia for most of the past week. There are fears the fighting at the town of Kitchanga could become a spreading ethnic conflict.

The fighting around the town of Kitchanga is between the Democratic Republic of Congo's national army and a militia called the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo.

About 700 APCLS militants arrived in Kitchanga in January, when their commander was in talks with the government about possibly integrating his troops in the army.
 
Those talks broke down and tension between the APCLS and the army regiment in Kitchanga flared into an open war on February 24.  The United Nations says the fighting in the town has caused at least 80 deaths.
 
A civilian who was in Kitchanga that day, Jean Claude Mirumbi, said the fighting was triggered by an ethnic dispute.
 
He says it is really an ethnic war because it started after the APCLS tried to break up a displaced people’s camp where they claimed ethnic Tutsi had hidden weapons and were forming their own militia.  The army protected the camp and fighting broke out between the APCLS and the army.
 
The APCLS are mainly from the Hunde community, while many of the army troops fighting in Kitchanga are Hutu and Tutsi.

An aid worker for the international charity Oxfam, Eddy Mbuyi, said the fighting has turned into an ethnic conflict.
 
He told U.N.-funded IRIN news that at Kitchanga, both sides have been targeting ethnic groups by burning their houses.
 
The fighting does not seem to have spread elsewhere in Masisi, although Mbuyi warns it might.

An APCLS spokesman, Kingi Mbayo, denies it is waging an ethnic war.
 
 He says the APCLS is not against the Tutsi, and has very good relations with the Hutu community.  He says it is a political and military movement that includes all ethnic groups.
 
But he added there is a problem with what he called fake refugees pretending to be Congolese Tutsi who are claiming a right to return to land in the Congo, and he called for the DRC and Rwandan governments to work harder to resolve this issue.
 
The clashes at Kitchanga are part of the long-running conflict in the eastern DRC, where dozens of armed groups have fought the government and each other for years, mainly over the region's rich mineral wealth.
 
Despite the fierce fighting at Kitchanga, the APCLS military spokesman, Jannot Makale Kale, says his group is not against the government.
 
He says the group is ready to collaborate with the army, which it regards as its ally, but it cannot leave Kitchanga.
 
Meanwhile, aid workers report most of the population of Kitchanga, estimated at 120,000 people, has fled the town and many have taken refuge in the forest.

A U.N. spokesman said there are still about 3,000 displaced people around a U.N. peacekeepers base in the town.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs