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Rebels Take Back Town in Congo

October 20, 2002|From Reuters

BUKAVU, Congo — The nation's main rebel group said Saturday that it had retaken the strategic port town of Uvira after fighting in which scores of civilians and soldiers died, reigniting the war in eastern Congo.

The rebel advance triggered the flight of more than 30,000 Uvira inhabitants toward Burundi's frontier. The rebel group, the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy, said it had recaptured Uvira, which pro-government Mai-Mai tribal militias had taken six days ago.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame accused Congolese President Joseph Kabila of backing the militias and undermining efforts to bring peace.

Under a peace accord between Rwanda and Congo in July, most foreign troops withdrew from the vast Central African country this month, but violence has flared in the power vacuum left by retreating armies, causing renewed tension.

A rebel spokesman said 100 people were killed in the night battle to recapture Uvira.

U.N. officials could not confirm the rebels' claim.

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