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Fight for Kigali continues

NAIROBI (AFP) - Rebels and government soldiers battled for control of Rwanda's capital yesterday despite two ceasefire announcements.

Gunfire crackled and mortars boomed in central Kigali as sporadic fighting continued, relief officials and a United Nations spokesman said. But fighting slackened off during the weekend after a week of fierce artillery duels, they said.

Foreigners arriving from Kigali said the rebels appeared to have sealed off the capital on three sides and believed they were on the point of taking it.

The Red Cross meanwhile said it would evacuate some wounded people later this week from Kigali's main hospital to Kabgayi, about 45 kilometres (27 miles) south-west of Kigali. Patrick Gasser, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Kigali, denied reports that a mass evacuation was to start yesterday.

'We are opening a new field hospital in a convent in Kabgayi, about three kilometres south of Gitarama town,' Mr Gasser said. 'The Kigali hospital is overcrowded and we cannot discharge any patients for security reasons.'

The UN's first relief plane into Kigali since it suspended flights after one of its aircraft came under fire on Thursday landed safely at the airport yesterday. The UN resumed flights carrying desperately needed medicine and food after both sides promised not to attack relief planes.

A convoy of 10 trucks of the World Food Programme have crossed from Uganda into the districts of Byumba and Gatuna in northern Rwanda with 262 tonnes of food. A second WFP convoy left Uganda yesterday.