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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 16:43 GMT
New fighting in DR Congo



Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have accused government forces of starting a new offensive against rebel positions near the northern town of Bukungu.

A rebel spokesman said Congolese troops were attacking from both air and river, but had failed to take Bukungu because of strong rebel resistance.

The spokesman Kin-Kiey Mulumba told the BBC the government forces were trying to break through to release more than two-thousand Zimbabwean and Namibian troops who, he said, had been pinned down there by the rebels for more than four months.

On Monday, the Zimbabwean foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, complained that Zimbabwean troops had been encircled for months at Ikela, south of Bokungu; he said they had been denied access to provisions and had now come under direct attack.

Mr Mudenge warned that this could plunge Congo back into full-scale war. On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council called on the secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to equip five-hundred UN military observers for service in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the UN is trying to help enforce a three-month-old ceasefire.

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