The New Times (Kigali)
24 September 2008
Posted to the web 24 September 2008
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continued unabated Monday around Rutchuru and Masisi towns causing a backlash against Rwandan nationals and Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese in North Kivu.
The fighting between Laurent Nkunda's rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) on one hand, and a coalition of the government army (FARDC), Rwandan militia of the FDRL-Interahamwe, and two DRC rebel groups; Pareco and Mai-Mai on the other; has caused thousands to flee the clashes.
Bloomberg news agency Monday quoted a Goma resident, Nadine Bora, that a fuel station belonging to a Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese was gutted by irate widows of Congolese army soldiers who are said to have died in the fighting.
"They're angry the government isn't finishing with Nkunda," Bloomberg quoted Bora outside one of two outlets that were targeted. It said that the attackers suspect the owners of Amani to be Nkunda supporters.
Nkunda is a Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese who claims to be fighting to protect his people because the DRC government has failed to do so.
Sources in Goma reported that around 300 wives of FARDC soldiers based in Katindo Military Camp, three Kilometres south east of Goma, were protesting against their government for failing to defeat Nkunda, and concealing the remains of their husbands killed by CNDP in the ongoing fighting.
On hearing that many dead bodies of DRC government soldiers were being transported from Sake to Goma, the women, on their way to Goma Hospital to locate their loved ones - for fear that the government might bury them secretly ¬- destroyed the fuel station which belongs to Mr. Musanganya, a Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese.
"On Monday, Paluku mobilised street children to protest against the Rwandan government which he claims is killing Congolese soldiers by supporting Nkunda," revealed one source. Julien Paluku is the Governor of North Kivu Province, and Rwanda has repeatedly denied being involved in the conflict.
The protesters were dispersed by MONUC and Congolese Police after they attempted to burn another fuel station suspected to belong to a Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese.
It is also reported that 12 Rwandans were arrested by the Congolese authorities in an operation by the Governor to identify all foreigners in Goma. Among the arrested are students who go to school across the border from Gisenyi, and milk vendors.
Our informant suspects that DRC authorities intend to parade those arrested as Rwandan prisoners of war helping Nkunda. The arrests followed a dawn attack by two CNDP Brigades commanded by Lt. Col. Alphonse Mudahunga against FARDC front line units of 82nd Brigades under command of Col. Jonas Padiri that were deployed on hills surrounding Sake township.
The battle is said to have lasted four hours leaving FARDC in disarray and abandoning key strategic hills that dominate Sake-Bukavu and Sake-Masisi main routes.
Intense fighting was also reported in Gashuga and Nzanzare in the general area of Tonga where a combined force of FARDC's 15th, 13th and 7th Brigades of the 8th Military region and two battalions reinforcing from the 4th Brigade of the Kisangani-based 9th military region under command of Col. Mwungura and using heavy artillery, attacked CNDP's 1st Brigade commanded by Lt. Col. Salongo.
Information reaching The New Times says bombardments were still going on by Monday evening. There are conflicting reports regarding the number of casualties, but the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, is worried and has called for a ceasefire.
"These new clashes would have a dramatic impact on civilians," MONUC was quoted by AFP as saying.
Rwandan officials fear that the border town of Gisenyi might soon see another surge in refugees fleeing the fighting. Peace was thought to be around the corner when the DRC government signed a peace deal with the rebel groups in January.
This followed another deal between Rwanda and the DRC struck in Nairobi two months earlier that was brokered by the EU, UN and the US.
In the so called "Nairobi Communiqué", the DRC had promised to disarm and dismantle the genocidal FDLR rebels - remnants of the ex-FAR/ Interahamwe militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
But instead a stream of reports have continued to indicate that the FARDC had intensified its support for the FDLR and other rebel groups in a bid to have a joint final go at CNDP.Military observers in the region suggest that the disarmament exercise gave the DRC government an opportunity to amass troops in the region without arousing Laurent Nkunda's
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