UN peacekeepers were trying Tuesday to verify a claim that rebels had overtaken the strategic town of Rutshuru. The UNHCR, meanwhile, said it was preparing for the arrival of 30,000 refugees at a camp near the regional capital, Goma.
"We have taken the town of
Earlier the head of the government army's operations in the area, Colonel Delphin Kahimbi, said he would have to abandon the town in the face of a rebel advance that began on Sunday.
The military spokesman for U.N. peacekeeping mission MONUC, Colonel Samba Tall, said MONUC was attempting to verify the rebels' statement, but U.N. forces were still in Rutshuru.
"As far as I know they haven't taken the town of
Bisimwa said rebels loyal to renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda had also encircled the provincial capital Goma 100 km (60 miles) to the south. That could not be independently verified.
U.N. peacekeepers had to scrap a bid to evacuate around 50 foreign aid workers from Rutshuru, in the bloodstained
"The situation is very tense. They were blocked by both the population and soldiers. There are also attacks on humanitarian installations and looting," said Evo Brandau, spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian office OCHA.
"The army is no longer guaranteeing security."
Rutshuru normally shelters tens of thousands of internal refugees displaced by nearly two years of on-off fighting in the tin-mining region, but Kahimbi said the camps had emptied.
REFUGEES FLEE AGAIN
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said it was preparing for the arrival of 30,000 people at its Kibati camp 10 km (6 miles) north of Goma, including 20,000 from the
MONUC helicopters attacked rebel positions north of Goma on Monday, drawing anti-aircraft fire from Nkunda loyalists.
"MONUC will use all available means to protect urban centres including Rutshuru, Sake (to the west of Goma), and Goma," said Michel Bonnardeaux, spokesman for the peace force, whose 17,000 personnel are mostly deployed in
Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) accuses
Around 250,000 civilians have fled their homes in
Date created : 2008-10-28