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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Congolese flee new Hutu attacks

FDLR rebels in the eastern DR Congo. File photo
Many of the FDLR rebels fled to Congo after the 1994 Rwandan genocide

Some 30,000 people have fled raids by the Hutu FDLR militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the past two weeks, the UN says.

The armies of Rwanda and DR Congo launched a joint operation against the FDLR in January, before Rwandan troops returned home a month later.

The UN's refugee agency says the militia has been retaliating against the civilian population.

The FDLR's presence in DR Congo lies behind years of unrest in the region.

Some of the group's leaders are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.

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The FDLR stepped up its attacks in the first half of March, some of those who have fled fighting in the Lubero district of North Kivu province have told the UNHCR.

At least three civilians were killed on 15 March further south in Masisi, the UN says.

Some 160,000 people have fled their homes this year following fighting with the FDLR, the UN refugee agency says.

On-and-off fighting involving the FDLR, the army and other militias has displaced more than one million people in North Kivu since late 2006.

After the 1994 genocide, many of those responsible crossed into DR Congo as Tutsi rebels took power in Rwanda.

Rwanda has twice invaded DR Congo, saying it wants to stop the FDLR from staging attacks.

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