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DATE=12/2/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CONGO REBEL FIGHTING (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-256753 BYLINE=TODD PITMAN DATELINE=KIGALI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Rebels fighting to oust Congo President Laurent Kabila are claiming new gains in the north of the country. Todd Pitman reports from Kigali and neighboring Rwanda. TEXT: The head of the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement, Jean-Pierre Bemba, says fighting has broken out between rebels and government troops at Basankusu, about 800-kilometers northeast of the Congo capital, Kinshasa. Mr. Bemba says his troops now control the town. But he says it was looted by government soldiers during skirmishes earlier this week. Mr. Bemba says rebels captured 120-prisoners at Basankusu, a supply boat filled with ammunition and troops, and a bomber that had been used to hit rebel positions for months. Mr. Bemba says rebel troops also repelled an attack at Bongandanga, 145-kilometers to the northeast. There was no independent confirmation of the rebel reports. Each side in Congo's war is charging that the other sparked the latest fighting in the northwest, violating a cease-fire signed three-months ago. Another rebel group, the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, has reported similar fighting during the past week near Bokungu - 350-kilometers southeast of Basankusu. The Congolese Rally for Democracy says government troops are trying to break through rebel lines to liberate two to three-thousand Zimbabwean, Namibian, and Congolese troops who are surrounded at an airport in Ikela, a small town in rebel-held territory. Zimbabwe has admitted its troops are surrounded at Ikela and has accused rebels of trying to cut off supply lines by land and river, and of firing at planes trying to land there. But Zimbabwe has vowed it will continue bombing rebel positions around Ikela in order to protect its troops and push rebels out of the area. (SIGNED) NEB/TP/JWH/LTD/RAE 02-Dec-1999 10:32 AM EDT (02-Dec-1999 1532 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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