5 Nov 2008

UN chief to intervene as Congo ceasefire under threat

5:24 pm on 5 November 2008

Fresh fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has prompted United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to intervene in the crisis.

There has been a week-long ceasefire but that is under threat following clashes between forces loyal to renegade general Laurent Nkunda and local pro-government Mai-Mai militia.

The clashes, around 80km north of the city of Goma, forced the evacuation of a dozen aid workers, according to a spokesperson for the UN's mission in the country.

The aid workers had been part of a convoy which on Monday delivered the first humanitarian aid in a week to the area after security assurances from rebel groups.

Goma is surrounded by rebel forces, which have routed government forces. About 250,000 people have fled their homes.

Mr Ban said he would visit the region at the weekend to hold talks with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.

Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting a rebel offensive which has seen government forces routed across eastern Congo.

But Rwanda slammed as a "misconception" international efforts to solve the crisis.

General Nkunda says he is fighting to protect his Tutsi community from attack by Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom are accused of taking part in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.