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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 04:51 GMT 05:51 UK

World: Africa

Congo fighting moves east

Angolan troops are helping President Kabila's forces

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo says that after successfully driving back rebel forces from the capital, Kinshasa, it has now taken the war to the rebel stronghold in the east.

BBC East Africa Correspondent Cathy Jenkins in Rwanda
A spokesman for President Laurent Kabila said the eastern border town of Kalemie, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, had been surrounded by government forces, who were preparing to attack.

Reports on Monday said the town was firmly in rebel hands.

UN call

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict, and for the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

It described the fighting as a serious threat to regional peace and security.

The Security Council also expressed alarm at the plight of the civilian population, saying civilians had been detained because of their ethnic origin, and subjected to hate propaganda, torture and sexual violence.

But the BBC UN Correspondent, Rob Watson, says that despite the Council's strong language, the UN's major powers have little appetite for intervention in the Congo and no immediate action is expected.

War 'far from over'

President Kabila's spokesman, Abdoulaye Yerodia, said Angolan and Zimbabwean forces were ready to help push out what he called the "Rwanda-Ugandan aggressors".

President Kabila has predicted that the rebellion will be defeated, as he put it, in a week or two.

But the rebels say the war is far from over, and the foreign minister of neighbouring Rwanda, Anastase Gasana, told the BBC President Kabila was declaring a premature victory.

[ image: Captured rebels alleged to be Rwandans]
Captured rebels alleged to be Rwandans
The government in Kinshasa has steadfastly maintained that troops from Rwanda and Uganda helped start the rebellion at the beginning of August.

Rwanda has maintained with equal consistency that its troops were not present - but the Rwandan Government has warned that it could send forces in to protect the minority Tutsis in the east.

Congolese are reportedly being incited to carry out lynchings and beatings of Tutsis.

Congolese Deputy Interior Minister Faustin Munene: "There is no rebellion."
The Angolan military, which is backing President Kabila, says it is prepared to support government operations in the east.

A rebel spokesman said they would now conduct a guerrilla-style war around the capital, Kinshasa, splitting into smaller groups ready to strike at any time.

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