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UN Troops Respond to Clashes in Congo Region

Voice of America

VOA News
13 Jun 2003, 17:50 UTC

French-led peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have responded to reports of tribal fighting near the northwestern town of Bunia.

A military spokesman, Colonel Gerard Dubois, said Friday, troops were sent to defend the population from the reported attack about five kilometers outside the base. Details on the fighting were not immediately available. The deployment was the first action taken by the 400-person force, which began arriving in the DRC this week. Soldiers from several nations are expected to continue arriving in coming weeks, reaching a total of 14-hundred by July.

The United Nations Security Council approved the action last month to protect civilians and reinforce U.N. troops already in the region. The latest fighting comes one day after a U.N. delegation visited the region, where ethnic Hema and Lendu militias have been fighting for control of the mineral-rich region since early May.

The violence has claimed hundreds of civilian lives and forced tens of thousands to flee to neighboring regions.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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