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Army recaptures Nyamilima village, North Kivu

BUNIA, 13 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Government troops recaptured on Tuesday the village of Nyamilima, one of three in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo held by local and Rwandan Hutu rebels, a senior army commander said.

"We routed the assailants," Col Janvier Mayanga, the 12th Brigade commander based in Rutshuru, said on Tuesday.

However, his forces are yet to retake the nearby villages of Nyakakoma and Ishasha from the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda and two Mayi-Mayi militia battalions. These villages are near Nyamilima, which is 150 km northwest of Goma, capital of North Kivu Province.

Mayanga said the army would recapture Nyakakoma and Ishasha in the next few days. The rebels had seized all three villages on Monday from a battalion of the 12th Brigade.

Mayanga said the army sustained four wounded and killed 12 FDLR rebels in Nyamilima. UN military observers said they saw one dead government soldier there.

An official of a civil society organisation, who did not wish to be identified, said fighting was still taking place near Nyakakoma and Ishasha on Tuesday. She also said homes had been burnt and that all the fighting groups had engaged in looting. She said "several thousand" residents had fled towards North Kivu's Virunga National Park and to Uganda.

In June, the FDLR battled government troops in Miriki, a village 180 km north of Goma. Since 4 July the army, supported by Pakistani and Guatemalan troops, has been on the offensive against the rebels in several localities in neighbouring South Kivu Province, where the rebels have been accused of killing civilians.

On 28 June, Congolese President Joseph Kabila told diplomats in Kinshasa, the capital, that he had ordered the army to begin disarming the thousands of foreign rebel in the east of the country.

The FDLR had said in March it would surrender its weapons and return to Rwanda. So far, it has done neither. The FDLR has been in eastern DRC since the 1994, after being routed by the current rulers in Kigali. The presence of this group has been a source of tension between Kigali and Kinshasa. Some of the senior rebel commanders of the FDLR are said to have directed the killing of some 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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