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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 13:53 GMT
Zimbabwe 'frees soldiers' in Congo




Zimbabwean military commanders say they have freed 3,000 of their troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo who had been trapped by a rebel siege for the past six weeks.

The commanders said they had inflicted a military defeat on rebels surrounding the Congolese town of Ikela, and had already flown in fresh supplies to their troops there.

Battle for the heart of Africa

But there is no independent confirmation of the commanders' reports.

The Zimbabwean army has given no casualty figures resulting from the Ikela siege, which took place in the centre of DR Congo, close to the line of control between government and rebel forces.

The siege has been an important stumbling block in recent negotiations aimed implementing the Lusaka peace accord which was signed last year and which was intended to end the civil war in DR Congo.

The Zimbabwean soldiers are part of a 10,000-strong force which is fighting to defend the government of President Laurent Kabila.

Earlier reports of the number of Zimbabweans trapped at Ikela ranged from 700 to 2,000.

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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwean soldiers cut off in Congo
25 Nov 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo
11 Nov 99 |  Africa
UN team starts work in Congo
03 Sep 99 |  Africa
Rwanda hails Congo victory
08 Jul 99 |  Africa
Congo peace plan: the main points

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