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Chief of UN mission calls on militias in DR of Congo to join Ituri peace process

10 May 2004 ? The chief of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) today called on militias in the east of the country to join the UN-backed peace process in Ituri province, where some 50,000 people have been killed and half a million uprooted from their homes.

William Lacy Swing urged the representatives of the militias not to lose this last chance offered them by the DRC Transitional Government.

The time had come to end the suffering of the people of Ituri and take part in the only responsible, courageous and nationwide solution, which was to play an active role in Ituri's Disarmament and Reintegration Plan, he said at the opening meeting of the Committee for the Coordination of Armed Groups (CCGA).

The Plan's immediate goal was to bring to an end the fighting and the suffering of the people by proposing to the armed groups a dignified exit strategy, as well as the possibility of reintegrating themselves into the Congolese community by working concretely towards national reunification and reconciliation, he said.

Meanwhile, MONUC said a UN Ituri Brigade patrol, ambushed early Friday near Kombokabo village, 25 kilometres southwest of Bunia, killed 10 militia members while two peacekeepers sustained injuries.

Front Nationaliste Intégrationniste (FNI) militia, which had been harassing civilians, opened fire on UN peacekeepers from the Bangladeshi contingent, MONUC said. Reinforcements comprising two Nepalese units and an MI-25 combat helicopter were deployed immediately to the area and they destroyed two FNI militia camps in Kombokabo and Ngaju.

The Ituri Brigade pursued the militiamen who fled towards the Songololo district, MONUC said.

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