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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK

World: Africa

Congolese say rebels surrounded in west

Rebels have been refused safe passage back to Goma in the east

The Democratic Republic of Congo says forces loyal to the government have surrounded thousands of Rwandan-led rebels whose attempt to seize the capital, Kinshasa, had failed.

A government minister, Mwanze Kongolo, said the rebels would not be allowed to withdraw from western Congo until they handed over their weapons.

[ image: Captured rebels alleged to be Rwandans]
Captured rebels alleged to be Rwandans
He said he feared they would join up with the Rwandan forces in eastern Congo.

Rebel leaders deny the government claims and say their forces are continuing their push into President Kabila's home province of Katanga.

They say they are also advancing on the town of Kindu, further north, which is an important military base.

Rwanda and Uganda accused

Mr Kongolo accused Rwanda and Uganda - Congo's eastern neighbours - of leading the month-long rebellion.

He said troops from both countries were in Congo, attacking civilians and destroying property.

Rwanda and Uganda have denied any direct involvement.

Non-Aligned Movement summit

BBC's Greg Barrow in Durban: Congolese want complete withdrawal of Rwandan, Ugandan troops
The justice minister was speaking in South Africa ahead of the Non-Aligned Movement summit, which opens in Durban on Wednesday.

Among the heads of state who have already arrived are President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, both of whom have deployed troops inside Congo in support of the government of President Laurent Kabila.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is reported to be planning a mini-summit in what could perhaps be a last hope for peace to the region.

South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki: "There will be a ceasefire."
South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki says he is confident of a peaceful resolution in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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.

Curfew to remain

President Laurent Kabila's government said on Tuesday that a curfew imposed in Kinshasa following skirmishing against rebel infiltrators last week would remain for the time being.

The government also put on show about 40 prisoners, whom they described as a sample of captured Rwandans, Ugandans and Congolese who tried to take the capital in an assault that began last Wednesday.

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