29 Oct 2008

Congo troops pushed back by rebels

7:02 am on 29 October 2008

Government troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are withdrawing from their positions in Kibumba which is under attack by Tutsi rebels.

The BBC reports forces under General Laurent Nkunda have also opened a new front 50km further north in Rubare, near Uganda.

Rebels say their next target is the regional capital Goma, home to the UN headquarters, and where an estimated 20,000 people are fleeing. Goma is 30km south of Kibumba.

Le Potentiel, a pro-government Congolese newspaper based in the capital, Kinshasa, reports that two battalions from the Rwandan army are fighting with Gen Nkunda's men.

Rwanda has been accused of backing General Nkunda, who left the army and launched a rebellion after civil war ended in DR Congo.

He says he is fighting to protect the minority Tutsi community from the Hutu militia who carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

UN forces unable to stop rebels

UN forces backing the army have used helicopters and tanks to try and stop the rebel advance but say the rebels work in small groups making them difficult to locate and repulse.

Over the weekend the rebels captured a major army camp at Rumangabo and the headquarters of Virunga National Park.

A peace deal was signed in Goma between the government and various rebel groups at the end of January.

But General Nkunda has always refused to disarm while Rwandan Hutu rebels still operate in the area.