Congo rebels take town on Ugandan border

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The Independent Online

Rebels captured two border posts and a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as thousands of refugees fled into neighbouring Uganda.

A spokesman for the Ugandan army, Tabaro Kiconco, said the rebels grabbed control of the border post of Ishasha yesterday morning after recently capturing the town of the same name just over a mile away. A rebel spokesman, Bertrand Bisimwa, confirmed his army had taken the town but did not mention the border post. "We took this area of Ishasha peacefully," he said. "There wasn't a fight." Mr Kiconco also said the rebels had grabbed the Nyakokoma landing site on Lake Edward, which acts as a border post for those travelling to Uganda by boat. At least 13,000 civilians have fled into Uganda over the past two days, according to Robert Rosso, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Some of the stories told by the refugees are terrifying," he said. "They talk of passing many dead bodies as they walked for several days into Uganda." The rebel commander General Laurent Nkunda, pictured, an ethnic Tutsi, says his forces are fighting to protect Congo's minority Tutsis from the Hutu militia that fled to the country after helping to perpetrate the 1994 genocide that killed more than half a million Tutsis in Rwanda. But his critics contend he is more interested in power and Congo's mineral wealth. Mr Bisimwa said the Rwandan Hutu militia, known as the FDLR, was telling people to flee in order to attract international attention. "If people cross the border they think they can use the international community to force us to stop our initiative ... This is the propaganda of the FDLR," he said. Yesterday, the UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, called for urgent action to stop the killing, rape and looting in eastern Congo. She said UN investigators should be given unhindered access to investigate abuses.