Congo says army kills 25 mutineers in east

Tue May 22, 2012 6:16am GMT

By Jonny Hogg

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Twenty five mutineers loyal to a renegade general have been killed in clashes with the army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Monday.

The east of the central African country remains unstable nearly a decade after the formal end of a vicious civil war which sucked in neighbouring countries and left millions dead.

The region has been swept by fresh fighting in recent weeks after hundreds of troops defected from the army over issues including poor pay and living conditions and in support for Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Ntaganda had previously fought the government as part of the Rwandan-backed CNDP rebel movement, before signing a peace accord and integrating into the army in 2009.

The defectors loyal to Ntaganda and another mutineer, Colonel Sultani Makenga, were killed after attempting an assault on the town of Bunagana in North Kivu province on Saturday, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

"They were repulsed and during the fighting they lost 25 guys ... (government forces) may have had injuries, but no deaths," Mende said by telephone.

Mende said the failed attack had been carried out with support from fighters from the Rwandan FDLR rebel group, which has been operating in Congo for more than 15 years and is accused of carrying out widespread human rights abuses.

"They are hand in hand (with the FDLR) ... For Makenga and Ntaganda and the others who have criminal records, they must be arrested, we do not negotiate with criminals," Mende stated, accusing the mutineers of forcibly recruiting minors.   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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