Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo clashed with pro-government groups in multiple areas, with each accusing the other of threatening their positions.
Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo clashed again Thursday with pro-government groups, both sides said, each accusing the other of attempted encroachment.
Bertrand Bisimwa, spokesman for Tutsi ex-general Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), said Mai-Mai militia and exiled Rwandan Hutus had threatened rebel positions near the town of Kiwanja.
"In the face of this threat we took preventive action," Bisimwa said, adding that there had been "skirmishes rather than fighting."
The Mai-Mai and the Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda had been halted some four kilometres (2.5 miles) north of Kiwanja, which lies some 80 kilometres from the regional capital of Goma.
The CNDP said the two sides had also clashed around Masisi, some 90 kilometres northeast of Goma, but there was no independent confirmation.
The Mai-Mai spokesman in Nord-Kivu province, Didier Bitaki, for his part, said there had been fighting between the militia and the CNDP at Kisharu, 33 kilometres northeast of Kiwanja.
"The CNDP controls Kisharu and is trying to advance towards Ishasha," situated several dozen kilometres further north near the border with Uganda, he said.
The United Nations mission in Congo, known as MONUC, said Wednesday that the CNDP had launched new military operations in the Kiwanja-Ishasa area, "aggravating the humanitarian and security situation in Nord-Kivu" province.
Fighting had occurred between CNDP and Mai-Mai forces east of Kiwanja, MONUC said, adding that it amounted to a "ceasefire violation."
Long simmering tensions between the Kinshasa government and Nkunda spilled over into a new conflict in August, displacing some 250,000 people and creating a humanitarian disaster.
Bisimwa on Tuesday denied the CNDP was displacing people and claimed it was only carrying out "police" operations aimed at pro-government militia.
But MONUC Wednesday condemned the CNDP actions and called on the rebels to refrain from "further aggravating the population's suffering."
Date created : 2008-11-27