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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 08:31 GMT
New DR Congo unit set for mission
A company of Congolese rebel soldiers (1998 file photo)
The unit includes former rebels
The first unit of the new Democratic Republic of Congo army which includes former rebels is set to be deployed to the troubled north-east Ituri region.

But Deputy Defence Minister Mohammed Bule has not disclosed the date of the deployment of the 900 soldiers who have concluded six weeks training.

The soldiers were trained by French and Belgian troops on how to operate in peacekeeping missions.

The UN mission in DR Congo (Monuc) has been disarming militias in Ituri.

Despite the peace process and the setting up of a government of national unity last year, the situation is still tense in the far east of the country.


The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa says its still not clear what the new unit's first mission will be.

Meanwhile, the military spokesman of Monuc, Abou Thiam has said they intend to destroy weapons which were recovered form militia groups in Ituri region.

Mr Thiam said a large quantity of small-calibre weapons will be destroyed later this week.

Militia groups at the mineral-rich Ituri region - which is close to the border with Uganda - are responsible for atrocities against civilians.

UN peacekeepers killed two militiamen in Ituri.

A UN spokesman said the peacekeepers returned fire after they were shot at while attempting to disarm fighters in three camps belonging to a rebel group, the Union of Congolese Patriots.

The UN says its forces successfully destroyed the bases, which held a total of around 200 fighters. Thirty people were arrested.

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