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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Factions clash in DR Congo
Ethnic Lendu militia
Eastern DR Congo is full of armed groups
Almost 50 people have been killed in fierce fighting for the town of Bunia in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a United Nations official.


Everyone is attacking, everyone is stealing

Monuc spokesman Hamadoun Toure
The BBC's Mark Dummett says Bunia is an important trading centre of 300,000 people and capital of a mineral and agriculturally rich region.

Ethnic Hema militia and Ugandan soldiers have seized much of the town from a Congolese rebel group, which split from Uganda in April, reports the Associated Press news agency (AP).

A peace deal was recently signed between the Congolese Government of Joseph Kabila and Rwanda, which backs other rebel groups in DR Congo.

Machetes and hoes

The situation is chaotic, Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the UN observer mission in DR Congo, (Monuc) told AP.

"You never know who's controlling what... everyone is attacking, everyone is stealing," he said by telephone from Kinshasa.

So far, 37 civilians and 11 Ugandan soldiers have been killed in the fighting, he said.

One aid worker said the Ugandan army and their local allies now control more than half of it and have captured the governor's office.

A local human rights organisation said that before the latest clashes on Friday afternoon, more than 90 bodies had been counted.

Many were women and children who had been hacked to death with machetes and hoes.

The fighting began on Tuesday but our correspondent says this is the worst fighting yet.

The Rally for Congolese Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML), led by Mbusa Nyamisi, signed up for a peace deal with the Congolese Government in April.

They split from the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), which controls most of eastern DR Congo.

The Hema have frequently clashed with the ethnic Lendu for control of the area's rich natural resources.


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30 Jul 02 | Africa
11 Jun 02 | Africa
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