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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
DR Congo fighting 'worsens'
Foreign troops in DR Congo
DR Congo has been devastated by years of war
Fighting has intensified between Rwandan forces and ethnic Hutu Interahamwe rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a Rwandan official has said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Joseph Mutaboba told the BBC that despite the signing of a peace deal between Rwanda and DR Congo nearly three weeks ago, there was no effective ceasefire around the eastern town of Bukavu.

Rwanda-DR Congo peace deal signed
The peace deal aimed at getting Rwandan troops out
Under the peace agreement signed in South Africa, the Interahamwe rebels inside DR Congo are to be disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda and the 20-30,000 Rwandan troops are to be withdrawn from the country.

The rebels fled to Dr Congo after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which many of them were believed to have taken part.

Rwanda says it sent its troops into DR Congo in 1998 because of the activities of the Hutu rebels there.

The Rwandan Government said the rebels were being supported by the DR Congo Government.

'Heading north'

The Rwandan army is conducting "a major sweep" against the Hutu rebels in mountainous areas south of Bukavu and west of lakes Tanganyika and Kivu, according to the French news agency, AFP.

AFP says that the Rwandans captured the settlement of Nzovu, 150 km west of Bukavu on Friday.

Mr Mutaboba said that the fighting started because the Hutu rebels were trying to move north in the Dr Congo to avoid being disarmed under the terms of the Rwanda-DR Congo peace agreement.

But the DR Congo Government has said that since the signing of the peace deal, there is no reason for the Rwandan army to remain active in eastern DR Congo.

The Rwandan rebels have said that they do not accept the peace deal and will not return voluntarily to Rwanda.

A week ago, Zimbabwe announced that it was pulling its troops out of DR Congo following the peace deal.

The Zimbabwean Government had sent troops to the country to support Congolese Government forces.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Joseph Mutaboba, Rwandan official on Focus on Africa
"We won't withdraw while these groups are still shooting at us"

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13 Aug 02 | Africa
11 Aug 02 | Africa
30 Jul 02 | Africa
23 Jul 02 | Africa
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