Congo: Reformed Rebels Resume Rebellious Roles



Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

December 31, 2006: The UN and the government are once again fighting militia forces in Ituri province (northeastern Congo). During the last week of December, Congolese forces fought with militiamen belonging to the Front of Nationalists and Integrationists (FNI). The government reported the 19 Congolese soldiers died in the series of engagements. In a firefight in the town of Fataki (north of Bunia) the militiamen took 14 government soldiers as hostages. The government and UN forces in the area have ordered the militiamen to return the captured soldiers. The fighting is definitely a setback. In November the FNI agreed to disarm. On December 28 a 300-man contingent of the FNI turned in their weapons. However, these militias have factions within factions. When one charismatic leader decides he doesn't like the disarmament deal he can usually cobble together a force of disgruntled fellow tribesmen to follow him back into the bush.

December 27, 2006: Army forces engaged in a series of firefights in the eastern Congo with a militia loyal to dissident leader Laurent Nkunda. The biggest firefight erupted in the town of Jomba (north of Goma, in North Kivu province near the Congo's border with Rwanda and Uganda). The government claimed 18 of Nkunda's militiamen died in the fight at Jomba. Nkunda now claims he is waging war on behalf of Tutsi living in the eastern Congo.

December 26, 2006: The European peacekeeping force (EUFOR) has completed its planned withdrawal from the Congo, with the departure of 250 French troops and a seven Belgian observers. EUFOR provided extra troops to help secure the Congo's elections. The EUFOR withdrawal began at the end of November 2006. 17,500 UN troops remain on duty in the Congo.

December 22, 2006: Bolivia announced it will continue to provide a troop contingent for UN forces in the Congo. At the moment Bolivia has 210 soldiers serving with MONUC. Another 210-man contingent will replace the current unit. The "relief in place" is scheduled for December 28.


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