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Wednesday, August 26, 1998 Published at 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK

World: Africa

Curfew in Kinshasa

The government say troops are conducting "mopping-up operations"

The BBC's Roger Hearing reports on the fight for Kinshasa
The government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo's as fighting continues between government and rebel forces on the outskirts of the city.

Kinshasa itself is reported calm although government troops have been deployed in helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles and have set-up roadblocks in the centre.

BBC's Mark Doyle: Airport is heavily defended
Reports say the main fighting has been near the international airport, 30km south-east of the capital.

The airport is heavily defended by government troops in addition to Zimbabwean troops who arrived on Tuesday.

Congo Information Minister Didier Mumengi calls for residents to stay calm (in French)
State radio has urged people to remain calm, saying government troops were engaged in what it described as a clean-up operation against "enemy infiltrators".

It reported many casualties.

A senior rebel leader said his forces were inside Kinshasa and controlled parts of the city.

[ image: Kinshasa residents told to stay home and stay calm]
Kinshasa residents told to stay home and stay calm
It is the first time the fighting has reached Kinshasa since the rebellion began.

Rebel forces fighting to overthrow President Kabila have been trying to advance on Kinshasa, but in recent days have reportedly been forced back by troops from Zimbabwe and Angola supporting the Congolese Government.

The joint forces of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Congo are said to be in Kinshasa while Angolan troops are said to be advancing from the west.

The government announced on Tuesday the Western towns of Matadi, Kitona, Moanda, Boma and Banana, had been recaptured.

"Thousands of prisoners and hundreds of dead and wounded people are clear evidence of the fierceness of the clashes," the information minister said.

BBC's Jane Standley in Kinshasa: "Local people are unnerved"
The intervention of Angolan and Zimbabwean troops on the government side had led many people to believe that the tide in the war has turned in President Kabilia's favour.

This has left rebel fighters facing a squeeze and may explain a possible attempt to push forward to the capital.

Unconfirmed reports from security sources say the rebels are trying to break out of the western corridor of fighting to sweep around Kinshasa.

Kabila back in Kinshasa

Mr Kabila returned to Kinshasa on Tuesday from his Lubumbashi stronghold in the south-east.

He arrived after a week away in a confident mood saying victory was now certain.

The Zimbabwean military had earlier given its first account of the fighting, saying its airforce helped destroy a five-kilometre column of rebel tanks and armoured cars in the west of the country.

Aid supplies from Italy are due in Kinshasa, in an attempt to ease the impact of the war on the city's civilian population.

They are expected to arrive from neighbouring Brazzaville on Wednesday.

If you are in Kinshasa, please send us your eyewitness accounts.

Please include details of your name and phone number.

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