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The BBC's Yvette Austin
"The UN is anxious to prevent any escalation"
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East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins
"Kisangani is an important city for the diamond trade"
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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Uganda attacks Rwandans in Congo
Holbrooke and Kabila
The attacks came just after President Kabila signed a deal with the UN
Uganda has attacked the Rwandan army's positions in the Congolese city of Kisangani, the Rwandan army and United Nations observers said.

The attack came barely hours hours after the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo signed an agreement which will allow the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force

Five people were killed in the cross-fire between the former allies, according to a UN official.

Rebel groups backed by Uganda and Rwanda share control of Kisangani, which is in the north-east of the country.

Rwandan army spokesman Emmanuel Ndahiro said Ugandan troops began firing mortars and anti-aircraft fire early on Friday morning.

Uganda troops
Uganda brought in an extra 700 troops recently
Strategic city

"But we have no interest whatsoever in fighting the Ugandans, so we are holding our troops and telling them not to fire back," he added.

The shelling came largely from the Kapalata military camp, which the Ugandan army took over last month despite protests from Rwanda.

Mr Ndahiro said the Rwandan authorities had contacted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who agreed to help bring an end to the fighting.

Located on the Congo river, Kisangani is a strategic city for the Congolese diamond trade.

Former allies

Rwanda and Uganda both oppose the government of Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

But the war in Congo has divided them as they have supported rival rebel forces.

Tension started rising last week after Rwandan commanders accused Uganda of bringing in an extra 700 troops.

Rwanda and Uganda - along with the rebels and the Congolese Government - are signatories to a ceasefire signed in Lusaka last year, but which has frequently been broken.

Peace accord

On Thursday, President Kabila signed a security guarantee which will allow the UN to bring in 500 UN military observers and 5,000 support troops to monitor the ceasefire.

US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke is leading a UN delegation on a regional tour to help secure agreement from all sides on the deployment of the organisation's troops.

Mr Holbrooke had hailed the accord as a major step forward.

Previously, about 100 UN monitors already in the country have been denied access to certain key areas.

After securing a commitment from President Kabila, the UN delegation intends to meet the Ugandan and Rwandan Governments - as well as Zimbabwe, whose army is supporting the president.

The BBC's Stephanie Walters in Kinshasa says it remains to be seen whether the Congolese Government will now respect its commitment, and even if it does, the deployment remains far off.

Mr Holbrooke said it was unlikely the full UN force could be deployed before August.

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See also:

04 May 00 | Africa
DR Congo peace force accord
24 Feb 00 | Africa
UN approves Congo force
30 Apr 00 | Africa
Kabila: UN 'dragging its feet'
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