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DATE=7/5/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251426 TITLE=CONGO REBEL GAINS (L-ONLY) BYLINE=TODD PITMAN DATELINE=KIGALI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A LEADER OF ONE THE REBEL FACTIONS FIGHTING IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO SAYS HIS TROOPS HAVE CAPTURED THE HOMETOWN OF THE LATE DICTATOR MOBUTU SESE SEKO. AS TODD PITMAN REPORTS FROM KIGALI, REBELS SAY THEY TOOK THE TOWN TO PUT AN END TO GOVERNMENT-ALLIED AIR RAIDS IN THE NORTH OF THE COUNTRY. TEXT: REBEL LEADER JEAN-PIERRE BEMBA SAYS FIVE REBEL BATTALIONS ON SATURDAY CAPTURED GBADOLITE, A VILLAGE SET IN DENSE JUNGLE ON CONGO'S NORTHERN BORDER WITH THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. MISTER BEMBA SAYS THE TOWN FELL AFTER SEVERAL DAYS OF HEAVY FIGHTING, WHICH FORCED FIVE THOUSAND GOVERNMENT-ALLIED TROOPS, AMONG THEM THOUSANDS OF RWANDAN HUTU MILITIAMEN AND A SUDANESE UNIT, TO FLEE ACROSS THE BORDER. MOST OF THE TOWNS' RESIDENTS FLED INTO THE SURROUNDING BUSH AFTER THE BATTLE, WHICH REPORTEDLY LEFT A LARGE CACHE OF WAR MATERIAL, INCLUDING AMMUNITION, BOMBS AND TANKS, IN REBEL HANDS. MISTER BEMBA'S UGANDAN-BACKED CONGOLESE LIBERATION MOVEMENT, OR M-L-C, SAYS THE AIRPORT AT GBADOLITE WAS A KEY GOVERNMENT AIRBASE WHICH HAD BEEN USED TO LAUNCH BOMBING RAIDS ON REBEL POSITIONS THAT HAVE KILLED DOZENS OF CIVILIANS IN THE NORTH. THE LATE PRESIDENT OF THE FORMER ZAIRE, MOBUTU SESE SEKO, BUILT HIS MOST EXTRAVAGANT PALACE IN GBADOLITE, WHERE HE FLED AFTER HE WAS TOPPLED BY PRESIDENT KABILA IN MAY 1997. THE M-L-C HAS ADVANCED SLOWLY IN NORTHERN CONGO'S EQUATOR PROVINCE SINCE IT CAME INTO EXISTENCE IN NOVEMBER LAST YEAR. ANOTHER REBEL FACTION BACKED BY RWANDA, THE CONGOLESE RALLY FOR DEMOCRACY, CONTROLS MOST OF THE EAST OF THE COUNTRY. NEWS OF THE TOWN'S FALL COMES AS PEACE TALKS AIMED AT BROKERING A CEASEFIRE TO END CONGO'S SECOND REBELLION IN TWO YEARS ARE CONTINUING IN THE ZAMBIAN CAPITAL LUSAKA. (SIGNED) NEB/TP/PLM 05-Jul-99 4:13 AM EDT (0813 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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