Congo: Too Many Bandits, Not Enough Peacekeepers

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September 15, 2005: The 16,700 U.N. peacekeepers in Congo are costing over a billion dollars a year to maintain, and it isn't enough. Right now, most of the UN troops are concentrated in the north, to try and deal with Tutsi and Hutu militias. But in the south, local tribal gangs (the Mai-Mai, a traditional hunting society) are raiding at will. Government troops cannot deal with the Mai Mai, and UN troops are not available. When the situation in the north is taken care of, the Mai Mai will become a priority.

September 15, 2005: The army rebellion in the eastern Congo continues to sputter along. The Congo's military commander in North Kivu (8th Military Region) said another 350 Congo soldiers had "defected" to general Laurent Nkunda's "rebel force." The defecting troops primarily came from the 124th Battalion of the Congo army, stationed in the town of Katale. Most of the soldiers were ethnic Tutsis. The defections took place last week. Since the 124th bolted, a new Congo army battalion has moved into Katale. Nkunda may have established a headquarters in the town of Kichanga (which isn't far from the Rwandan border).

September 10, 2005: General Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi warlord, is assembling a force of gunmen in northern Congo, and has announced his plans for overthrowing the government. Nkunda believes the government has it in for the Tutsi (who were the last group to settle the area over a century ago, and are still considered "outsiders"), and vows to strike first. Most of Nkunda's guys are little more than bandits. But they are armed, and do not hesitate when it comes to killing, looting and raping.

September 7, 2005: The government has ordered foreign gunmen to leave the Congo by the end of September, or face attack from government troops and UN peacekeepers.

 

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