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Clashes, displacement in the east

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©  Olu Sarr/IRIN

The IDPs fled renewed clashes in the east

KINSHASA, 28 Dec 2006 (IRIN) - Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in eastern DRC due to renewed clashes between the regular army, and forces allied to renegade commander Laurent Nkunda, according to military sources and the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC.

The fighting was quelled on Thursday with the intervention of MONUC patrols "to protect civilians and stop the fighting", MONUC spokesperson Lt-Col Didier Rancher said.

At least 18 of Nkunda's forces, and one civilian, were killed in clashes on Wednesday near the village of Jomba, eight kilometres north of Goma, capital of North Kivu province, said Rancher.

The fighting, which resumed on Thursday, affected people in Jomba and nearby villages, according to DRC military officer Col Delphin Kahindi.

"It's the population of Jomba which is displaced because of shooting this morning", he said, estimating the population of Jomba at 20-30,000 people.

"They are still on the move, but would be heading for Bunagana and Rutshuru, 70 kilometres northeast of Goma, towards Uganda," he added. "It's not possible to reach them yet; they are staying with families or trying to find shelter in public buildings."

Both MONUC and the DRC military said the conflict erupted when regular military positions were attacked by militia elements, despite an ongoing process of integrating various militias into the regular DRC army, or demobilising them.

ei/jm


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