Congo: Rebels Melt Away

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)



November 16, 2005: In the northeast, a thousand soldiers and 300 peacekeepers attacked the Revolutionary Movement of Congo, a militia that has refused to disarm. At least 19 militiamen, and one soldier, were killed in the fighting. The government believes that it has reduced the number of rebel militiamen in the northeast from 5,000 to 1,000 in the past six months.

November 13, 2005: The UN reported that judicial proceedings against militia leaders is starting to pay off. In the last several months UN peacekeepers and Congo soldiers have arrested many militia members for criminal activity and failure to turn in weapons. Trials of senior militia leaders began in October and several have been convicted. The UN estimates that fighting in Ituri province has killed at least 60,000 people. Militias and tribal fighting were responsible for the deaths. Jailing leaders alone won't end the militia threat. The UN is using a multi-million dollar development grant to build and improve roads in Ituri. Militiamen who turned in their weapons to peacekeepers (as part of the "weapons exchange" program) and continue to cooperate with the Congo government are being offered jobs on the roads. The Congo government also reported that the Mongbwalu gold mine, which was controlled by the "Kung Fu and Dragon" militia, is now under government control.

November 12, 2005: Uganda still believes some LRA are hiding in the Congo. In late September Uganda said it would send troops into the Congo to fight the LRA rebels if the Congo did not take action against them. The UN patrols serve a a "political buffer" to keep Ugandan troops on their own side of the border.

November 10, 2005: UN peacekeepers and Congo troops announced that they were completing a large anti-militia operation in North Kivu province against Rwandan Hutu rebels and a Congolese militia. 2000 Congolese troops and 500 UN troops participated in the operation. The operation was supported by helicopter gunships and light armored vehicles. Part of the operation went through the Viruga National Park area. The UN reported its troops destroyed several rebel camps inside the park. The operation captured 359 Mai-Mai militia men and 17 Rwandan Hutu rebels. The Rwandan's belonged to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militia organization which has refused to turn in its weapons.

UN observers deployed in the northeastern Congo (near the Garamba National Park), and found "no tangible evidence" that Ugandan LRA rebels are inside the Congo. One of the main UN military units in the area is a 144-man Nepalese infantry unit deployed near the town of Aba. The UN believes the LRA group moved into Sudan around November 1, but its troops will continue to monitor the area. The Nepalese unit has sent patrols north to the Congo villages of Mamuru and Banga, which are near the Congo-Sudan border.

November 2, 2005: Soldiers freed four election workers who were being held captive by Mai-Mai militiamen. A gun battle left several dozen of the militiamen dead.

 

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