Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

DR Congo declines Indian troops

An Indian United Nations soldier looks on at a makeshift camp for displaced persons in DR Congo
Indian troops make up a quarter of peacekeepers in DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has asked the United Nations not to send any more Indian peacekeeping troops to the troubled east of the country.

A government spokesman told the BBC there were already enough in the force but gave no further reason.

Over the last few years, Indian peacekeepers have been accused of gold trafficking and sexual abuse.

India says it takes firm action against perpetrators if allegations are proved and has disciplined troops in the past.

Last week, the Security Council agreed to send 3,000 more troops to DR Congo where more fighting has been reported between rebels and a rival militia.

Recent weeks have seen heavy fighting involving rebels, government troops and pro-government militia which has displaced more than 250,000 people.

"There are already enough Indian troops in Congo, and the UN reinforcements should come from other countries," government spokesman Lambert Mende told the BBC.

He said there was a need to "redress the balance" of the make-up of the 17,000-strong UN force in DR Congo, known as Monuc.

Indian soldiers make up a quarter of Monuc's numbers.

Last week, 44 community groups in DR Congo wrote a letter to the UN Security Council asking for European troops to be sent to the region to halt atrocities there.

In the latest fighting, rebels led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda attacked the pro-government Mai-Mai militia on the road to Uganda, north-east of the rebel-held town of Rutshuru.

The UN condemned the clashes as a violation to last week's ceasefire, but Gen Nkunda's men say they were conducting operations to secure the population from Rwandan rebels known as FDLR.

Gen Nkunda has said he is fighting to protect his Tutsi community from attack by Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom are accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide.

Reports say clashes also erupted on Tuesday north of Nyanzale, an area Gen Nkunda's men had withdrawn from to make way for a buffer zone.

Meanwhile, Monuc has reported more lootings perpetrated by Congolese soldiers in a village further north of the ceasefire zone, around Lubero.

UN special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, who negotiated the ceasefire, is expected for a second visit to DR Congo at the weekend.

Map of eastern DR Congo

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