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Rekindled clashes displace thousands in Ituri

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©  Gratien Ira/IRIN

The villagers fled new clashes

KINSHASA, 3 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - Thousands of people have fled the village of Fataki, 70 km northeast of Bunia, capital of Ituri district in Eastern DRC, following clashes between militia and the regular army, officials of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUC, said.

Violence in the region began again on Tuesday after a New Year's ceasefire between militias reluctant to join the country's ongoing demobilisation process, and the army units posted in the area.

The officials have said that the displaced are now sheltering from the fighting.

"Nearly 4,000 displaced people are gathered in a school and a church near the edge of Fataki, not far from the MONUC Nepalese contingent," said Floruan Barbey, MONUC public information office in Bunia. Humanitarian agencies were assessing the situation, he added.

"It wasn't heavy fighting, but skirmishes between about a dozen militiamen who were exchanging fire sporadically with units of the DRC armed forces," said MONUC military spokesman Lt-Col Didier Rancher.

The area is remote and difficult to reach, except by helicopter, according to MONUC.

The fighting, which has affected other villages in the area, broke out despite talks between the army, the government, and representatives of militia commander Peter Karim, leader of the Front des nationalistes intégrationnistes (FNI). The talks are aimed at demobilising Karim's forces.

ei/bp/jm


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