DRC mutineers warn of UN forces provocations

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Staff writer

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo arrived in Bunagana and other parts of north region on a United Nations helicopter around noon in the town of Tshengerero in Nord-Kivu, before heading to the nearby town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda.

As he arrived, the gunfire and explosions that have rattled the surrounding hillsides for weeks resumed. In Bunagana centre, guns shorts could be heard. At his arrival, mutineers and army loyalists clashed again in the jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on yesterday, to assess the region’s security.

Colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the mutineers, on Thursday accused the UN’s mission in DR Congo of flying helicopters too close to the zone it occupies.

“We let them go by without any problems, but (the mission) is using our area without asking us. It’s a form of provocation, it’s serious, and it risks a reaction,” Kazarama said.

Accompanied by a team of 10 Ministers, Matata Ponyo told Bunagana residents in a speech that President Joseph Kabila “sent us to take the pulse of the situation on the ground, we want to quickly end your suffering and bring end to this war,” he said.

The DR Congo government says its army has killed 200 mutineers and wounded 250 since the fighting began, and that another 374 have surrendered, “including 25 Rwandan citizens” Kigali has vehemently denied the charge.

“The logistical and financial support of the government will reinforce the military so they can kick the enemies out of our national territory,” the prime minister later told journalists. Many residents of Bunagana and neighbouring communities have fled the violence and sought refuge in Uganda.

At one refugee centre across the border, the UN’s refugee agency says it has registered about 13,000 people.

Matata Ponyo spent about four and a half hours in the two towns before heading to provincial capital Goma. The fighting faded up soon after his departure. Each side accused the other of restarting the hostilities. There were no immediate casualty reports.

They began in early April to defect in large numbers from their military units in Sud-Kivu and Nord-Kivu, claiming poor treatment and demanding the full implementation of the 2009 deal on wages, food, promotions and duties.

The government says the mutiny is being led by General Bosco Ntaganda, a former rebel commander who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on a war crimes charge of recruiting child soldiers. But the mutineers say Gen. Ntaganda is not their leader.


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