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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK

World: Africa

Rebels 'ready for long war'

Rebels say they are gaining ground in Kabila's home area

By East Africa Correspondent Cathy Jenkins, in rebel-held Goma.

As the focus of the war moves from west to east, both the government and the rebels claim to be making ground at the expense of the other.

[ image: Laurent Kabila: Says his troops are advancing]
Laurent Kabila: Says his troops are advancing
The rebels control a swathe of territory in the east and a number of towns which lie on the shores of Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika.

They say confidently that they are continuing to push deeper into the province of Katanga, which is President Kabila's home area.

Rebel leaders say that its forces are also advancing on the town of Kindu, further north, which is an important military base and where they expected to meet resistance from government forces.

The rebels have denied a claim that troops loyal to President Kabila had surrounded Kalemie, a rebel-held town on Lake Tanganyika, and were preparing to take it.

Political leaders of the rebellion are playing down warnings from Angola that it is prepared to continue its military support for President Kabila in the war in the east.

One rebel official in Goma said that Angola would not know how to fight in the mountainous terrain of the east, even if it wanted to.

The rebels say that they are prepared for a long war and that they would accept solidarity from abroad.

President Kabila has accused Rwanda and Uganda of giving military support to the rebels.

The head of the rebels' political coalition, Ernest Wamba Dia Wamba, said that Rwanda had not intervened and that the rebels were weakening President Kabila on their own

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