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The BBC's Chris Simpson
"A low intensity war continues with each side blaming the other"
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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 16:45 GMT
Regional clashes in DR Congo
DR Congo fighting
The conflict has been called 'Africa's world war'
There are reports of continuing clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo between the rival Hema and Lendu peoples in the north-east of the country.

Officials in the market town of Katoto have appealed for help in feeding hundreds of people who they say have sought sanctuary in recent days after an attack by Lendu fighters.

A BBC correspondent in the area says that for their part, Lendu people have been speaking angrily of being ill-treated by Hema fighters.

Last year thousands of people were killed in clashes between the two sides, but while the massacres have stopped it appears a low-intensity war is continuing.

Internal disputes

The war in DR Congo has often been dubbed Africa's world war because so many African countries have been drawn into it.

But the conflict is not just about regional rivalries and the rebels' battle against President Laurent Kabila.

It has also revived smaller internal disputes in different parts the country, such as the Lendu-Hema conflict.

Some blame the latest clashes on Lendu extremists, who are accused of promoting feelings of jealousy and hatred against the Hema.

Scramble for land

However, the BBC's Chris Simpson spoke to Lendu villagers in the north eastern Ituri region who spoke angrily of their ill-treatment at the hands of Hema fighters.

Laurent Kabila
The RCD wants to remove President Kabila
One young Lendu man spoke of the continuing scramble for land.

"We want to tend our fields, but the Hema and their livestock are forcing us off the land," he said.

In the countryside, the scene is one of devastation. Many the villages along the roadside have been abandoned, with huts and houses burnt out or covered in plants and weeds.

The displaced have found shelter wherever they can, but officials are finding it difficult to feed and accommodate so many displaced people.

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See also:

15 Dec 00 | Africa
Rights group warns on DR Congo
06 Dec 00 | Africa
DR Congo deal signed
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Timeline: DR Congo conflict
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Congo's unhappy birthday
23 Aug 00 | Africa
Kabila rejects Lusaka accord
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