Congo army clashes with wanted general, five dead

Tue May 1, 2012 8:40am GMT

By Jonny Hogg

KINSHASA (Reuters) - At least five people have been killed in clashes between Democratic Republic of Congo's army and soldiers loyal to a renegade general wanted by the International Criminal court for war crimes, U.N. and military sources said on Monday.

The fighting in the Masisi region of North Kivu began late on Sunday and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes, some of them into neighbouring Rwanda, said aid groups.

General Bosco Ntaganda fought the government as a rebel before he was integrated into the army alongside other insurgents as part of a 2009 peace deal.

But clashes erupted again after President Joseph Kabila announced in mid April that he would try to arrest Ntaganda, a divise figure who has been at the heart of the region's instability, "because the whole country wants peace".

"We're in control of the situation, we're managing everything," a senior military source told Reuters, asking not to be named. "The population should flee so they don't get caught in the crossfire,"

He said at least five soldiers loyal to Ntaganda were killed on Sunday in Congo's east - an area that remains haunted by myriad rebel groups left over from a devastating 1998-2003 war.

The source said Ntaganda's forces had seized some territory from the government during the clashes.

Thousands of civilians in the region were fleeing toward the town of Goma, said Alexandre Essome, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo known as MONUSCO.   Continued...

Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Katrina Manson
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