Rebels burn down DRC homes

RWANDAN Hutu rebels burnt down about 130 village homes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an army officer said yesterday, though a regional politician said locals blamed the army.

RWANDAN Hutu rebels burnt down about 130 village homes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an army officer said yesterday, though a regional politician said locals blamed the army.

The Tuesday night attack, allegedly by rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), saw residents driven from their homes at Miriki in Nord-Kivu province.

Relieved

"The FDLR took advantage of our troops being relieved in the area. They tried to come back that night but we chased them away," the army officer told AFP.

But according to one regional politician locals blamed the attack on the army itself, known as the FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC). Miriki, about 120km north of the regional capital Goma, has long been a FDLR stronghold.

Rebels there have even levied taxes.

Genocide

About 5000 to 6000 Rwandan Hutu rebels are believed to be in the Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu provinces, some of whom took part in the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda before fleeing over the border into DR Congo.

The army launched an unprecedented joint operation with Rwandan armed forces earlier this year to try to oust the Hutu rebels, who have integrated into local communities over the past 15 years. - Sapa-AFP

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