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Wednesday, January 13, 1999 Published at 20:51 GMT

World: Africa

Nuns report Congo massacre

Government troops: Accused of border massacre

By Rome Correspondent David Willey

Teenage soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo have carried out another massacre, according to the Roman Catholic missionary news agency in Rome.

The agency said that more than 200 people had been killed by the soldiers in the town of Libenge on the Ubangi River, which forms the border with the Central African Republic.

Six nuns from a Roman Catholic missionary order fled for their lives across the river when the town of Libenge was sacked by Congolese government troops, according to the missionary news agency.

The nuns arrived in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui, where they reported a catastrophic refugee situation along parts of the Central African Republic border the Congo.

They reported that mission centres are overwhelmed with hungry, destitute people.

The Rome agency said that many of the Congolese troops were teenagers. Libenge had previously been occupied by rebels but the rebels fled and troops sent in from Kinshasa went on the rampage, looting and killing the townspeople instead.

Random executions

A French news agency report from Bangui said that another 120 people had been killed by the troops in the nearby town of Zongo.

Eyewitnesses said the Congolese troops looted and burned houses, executing groups of people at random.

A businessman whose vehicles were stolen said troops were also killing cattle and looting religious communities.

Father Giulio Albanese runs the Catholic missionary news agency from an office in Rome, pooling news from more than 40 Roman Catholic missionary orders working in Africa.

He said: "These are not proper military battles. In this part of Africa, the rebels melt into the bush. If government troops can't find the enemy, then they kill the local townspeople instead."

International journalists are barred from the area where the massacres took place.

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