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Last Updated: Friday, 9 May, 2003, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
DR Congo town 'volatile'
Ugandan troops withdraw from DR Congo
The situation in Congo has been a source of much tension

Six bodies have been counted on the streets of a town in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after two days of fighting and looting.

No fighting has been reported on Friday, but UN spokesperson in Bunia, Patricia Tome, told the BBC the situation was volatile.

She appealed for emergency food supplies and said about 1,000 students had mobbed the UN headquarters in the town to ask for help.

Clashes between rival ethnic militias broke out following the withdrawal of Ugandan forces in line with a peace deal.

The UN spokesperson said hundreds of families sheltering in a UN base had come under mortar fire and the UN troops had fired back.

She said some 5,000 people had left their homes and sought protection from UN peacekeepers.

UN patrols counted six bodies, but are unable to confirm reports of more deaths.

The violence came as the presidents of Uganda and Rwanda met in London to discuss DR Congo where they have both supported rival rebel groups during a four year war involving thousands of foreign troops.

Fears

On Thursday, hundreds of militia fighters roamed Bunia's streets with some armed with machetes, spears and guns.

DR CONGO'S WAR
Four years
Seven foreign armies
At least 2 million dead
Disease and abuses widespread

A plane carrying the Congolese Human Rights Minister, Ntumba Luaba, was hit by gunfire near the town's airport, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

Residents said that as darkness fell on Thursday, the fighting died down.

The Ituri region has seen several massacres in recent months carried out by rival ethnic groups, which include the Lendu and Hema.

BBC correspondent Mark Dummett in the capital, Kinshasa, says the most recent fighting was the scenario everyone feared once the Ugandans withdrew.

He says the UN has only a small presence in the town, although several hundred peacekeepers are expected by the end of next week.

The local police force are also ill equipped to intervene.

In London on Thursday, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed to fully support the implementation of the peace process in DR Congo.

Both countries have been heavily involved in the fighting there which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Their forces invaded Congo as allies in 1998, but ended up supporting rival rebel groups.

Uganda has asked for international help to deal with thousands of refugees fleeing the Bunia area into western Uganda.




SEE ALSO:
Uganda-Rwanda talks 'progress'
09 May 03  |  Africa
Fighting in DR Congo town
11 Apr 03  |  Africa
Unease in volatile DR Congo town
02 May 03  |  Africa
Uganda fears Congo vacuum
17 Apr 03  |  Africa
Rwanda ex-minister defects
01 Apr 03  |  Africa
Uganda-Rwanda tension mounts
17 Mar 03  |  Africa


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