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Rwandan Hutu Rebels Reported Killed in Congo Clashes - 2004-07-11

A number of Rwandan Hutu rebels are reported to have been killed in clashes with the Democratic Republic of Congo security forces in the last couple of days in the east of the country.

The Congolese army says that it killed the Rwandan Hutu rebels, known as Interahamwe, during two separate attacks over the weekend on its soldiers near the eastern Congolese town of Goma.

Colonel Obedi Rwibasira, the local military commander, said the rebels attacked his forces to the north and the west of the border town, but his soldiers fought back, killing dozens and seizing weapons. The first attack took place on Saturday morning in Rutshuru, a thickly forested district that borders Rwanda north of Goma. The second occurred early Sunday morning, some 40 kilometers west of the lakeside town.

General Rwibasira said three government soldiers were injured in the fighting.

There has been no independent confirmation of the clashes, but the army said the fighting points to the continued threat that the rebels pose to Congo and neighboring Rwanda.

Extremist Hutus who fled Rwanda after taking part in the 1994 genocide have been based in eastern Congo for the last 10 years.

Rwanda has invaded Congo twice, in 1996 and 1998, saying it was to defeat the rebels.

Although a peace deal signed in 2002 led to the official withdrawal of Rwandan soldiers, the government in Kigali has threatened to redeploy its soldiers, if Congo or the United Nations fail to disarm the rebels.