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Ethnic Clashes in Congo Leave Dozens Dead, Rebel Leader Says

January 04, 2002|From Reuters

KAMPALA, Uganda — Dozens of people were killed and hundreds of residences were razed in ethnic clashes in northeastern Congo in the last week, a rebel leader said.

"By last week at least 500 huts were burned down and many people were killed in clashes around Nyoka between the Lendu and Alur tribes," said Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement, or MLC.

Bemba, speaking by telephone from his base in Gbadolite in northern Congo, did not have exact numbers but said news reports that 50 people have died in the last five days were realistic.

The MLC withdrew from the Ituri region after friction with its former rebel ally, the Rally for Congolese Democracy-Kisangani/Liberation Movement, a group also backed by Uganda that now controls the area.

Thousands of people have been killed in fighting between ethnic groups in the Ituri region during the last two years.

The ethnic fighting has added another layer of conflict in Congo's war, which began in 1998 when rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda sought to oust President Laurent Kabila, whom the two nations accused of sheltering militias that threatened regional security. Kabila was assassinated in January 2001.

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