12 000 refugees flee fighting in DRC

At least 12000 refugees fleeing fighting in eastern DRC have crossed over the border into Uganda, a Ugandan army spokesman said yesterday.

At least 12000 refugees fleeing fighting in eastern DRC have crossed over the border into Uganda, a Ugandan army spokesman said yesterday.

Heavy fighting broke out in eastern Congo last month after rebels led by dissident General Laurent Nkunda attacked and forced out government soldiers near the town of Sake.

The army spokesman for western Uganda, Tabaro Kiconco, said refugees fled into Kisoro district after clashes occurred on the Congolese side, about 15km from the Ugandan border.

UN peacekeepers in Congo battled Nkunda's men last week in skirmishes that killed 150 rebels - the highest recorded death toll of any battle involving UN forces in Congo.

The Congolese army have since regained their positions, but sporadic clashes have persisted.

"The fighting is continuing," Kiconco said.

"We are monitoring our borders and have increased numbers of security personnel in the region. If the conflict spills over [the border] we shall repel it."

The latest flare-up came as Congo's newly elected president Joseph Kabila was inaugurated yesterday, winding up a long peace process aiming to restore stability to the huge country.

The UN high commission for refugees is sending a team to Kisoro this week to assess the plight of the refugees. - Reuters

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