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Soldiers killed, hundreds of civilians displaced in North Kivu

GOMA, 7 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - Three Congolese soldiers were killed, four were wounded and hundreds of civilians were displaced in the latest fighting on Sunday between government soldiers and Rwandan Hutu militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern province of North Kivu.

The commander of the army's 8th Military Region, Gen Gabriël Amisi, told IRIN on Monday that Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels attacked a military position at the village of Miriki, about 180 km north of the provincial capital, Goma.

"They attacked at night, dislodging our company in Miriki," Amisi said. "We later retook the village with the help to reinforcements from Kanyabayonga [a town 32 km away]."

He said the wounded soldiers were at a military hospital in Goma. He did not say how many loses the rebels suffered.

However, the FDLR denied responsibility for the attack. "It was my troops who were attacked by the army and it's not the first time," Ignace Murwanashyaka, the FDLR leader, told IRIN on Tuesday.

"I will discuss this matter with members of the government so that the abuses do not occur again," he said.

Hundreds of the displaced civilians in Miriki fled to Kanyabayonga, according to the town's chief, Joël Luhonu.

"For the moment, they are all staying with families there," he said.

Amisi said calm had returned to Miriki, and called on the displaced civilians to return.

The Rwandan Hutu rebels based in eastern Congo have been accused of numerous attacks on civilians, particularly in South Kivu's Walungu territory and on the Ruzizi plains.

Murwanashyaka signed a declaration on 31 March on behalf of the FDLR, saying his combatants would lay down their arms and return to Rwanda.

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