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Saturday, 16 February, 2002, 23:03 GMT
'Dozens killed' in DR Congo clashes
Lendu pastoralist
Tension over land distribution has led to conflict
Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo say dozens of people have been killed in tribal clashes in the north-east of the country.

Rebel groups which control the area, and the Ugandan army which has troops stationed there, say the fighting has been between the Hema and Lendu tribes.

Our operation in the area is very limited and we want the UN monitors and the rebel groups to take control

Ugandan army spokesman Major Shaban Batariza
A Ugandan military spokesman said his country's troops could not intervene because they had not been asked by the United Nations or the rebel groups in the region.

Fighting between the Lendu and Hema communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed thousands of people in recent years in a conflict over land and natural resources.

Up to 200 people are thought to have been killed in the latest clashes, tribal sources and the Ugandan army said on Saturday.

Many of the victims were hacked to death with machetes or killed with spears.

Ugandan military spokesman Major Shaban Batariza told the French news agency AFP the Ugandan military deployed in the area could not intervene.

"Our operation in the area is very limited and we want the UN monitors, Monuc, and the rebels groups to take control," he said.

Tensions between the Hema and the Lendu, who share fertile land close to the Ugandan border, have existed for many years but appear to have been exacerbated by the wider war in the country.

The two communities have periodically fought over fertile land.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Africa
UN slams Uganda for DR Congo war
24 Jan 02 | Africa
DR Congo's endless suffering
05 Jan 01 | Africa
Congo's forgotten war
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
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