[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Sunday, 6 June, 2004, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Rebel leader leaves DR Congo town
A soldier of the dissident troops guards a truck filled with ammunition, 6 June 2004
The rebels are supposed to have joined a new national army
A renegade leader has withdrawn from Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, four days after capturing the strategic eastern town.

Gen Laurent Nkunda left the town in a convoy shortly after announcing that his men had completed their mission.

He said his troops were moving to the north of Bukavu airport.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel was travelling to the DR Congo on Sunday to try to help rescue efforts to secure a permanent peace settlement.

Mr Michel planned to hold talks in the capital Kinshasa, as well as in neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

In fresh violence, two South African peacekeepers were shot dead when their convoy was ambushed near the town of Goma, north of Bukavu, UN officials said.

At least nine others were wounded.

Rebels withdraw

The fall of Bukavu had sparked fears that the country's fragile peace process might be unravelling.

Gen Nkunda said his decision to pull out of the town followed discussions with members of the transitional government and the UN.

"I am unilaterally taking the decision to pull my men out beyond the airport as a show of goodwill," Gen Nkunda told reporters.

A UN spokesman, Sebastien Lapierre, said the UN was carefully monitoring the withdrawal to see if all rebel soldiers would leave.

A BBC correspondent in Bukavu says Gen Nkunda failed to respect an earlier agreement with UN peacekeepers to remove his troops from the town.

Gen Nkunda said most of his troops did pull out as agreed, by Friday. He said dozens of remaining soldiers were protecting key installations and his senior officers.

A second renegade commander, Col Jules Mutebusi, said his troops would remain in the town, which lies close to the border with Rwanda. The troops would stay in their camps, he said.

"This is our home and there is nowhere else for us to go," he told the Associated Press.

Both Col Mutebusi and Gen Nkunda are former members of the largest rebel group, the RCD, which controlled all of eastern DR Congo during the five-year war.

The commanders - who are ethnic Banyamulenge, related to Rwandan Tutsis - say government forces have been attacking members of their community.

Under a peace deal agreed last year, all the Congolese warring factions were supposed to unite as a single army, but progress has been slow.

On Saturday the UN investigated reports that Gen Nkunda's troops were marching on another key town in the region, Walikale, but found no sign of such movement.

But a UN spokesman in Kinshasa, Hamadoun Toure, said former rebels had taken control of the town after clashing with traditional Mai Mai warriors.

It was unclear whether the troops in Walikale were linked to the Bukavu rebels.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific