Congo Republic fighting spreads to interior
August 14, 1997
Web posted at: 3:49 p.m. EDT (1949 GMT)
KINSHASA, Congo -- Fighting in Congo Republic,
until now largely confined to the capital Brazzaville, has
spread to the interior and briefly involved the neighboring
former Zaire, aid workers and local radio stations said on
Aid workers said clashes between forces loyal to President
Pascal Lissouba and supporters of his predecessor Denis Sassou Nguesso broke out on Sunday in Impfondo, about 900 km (560 miles) north of the capital.
A radio station controlled by Lissouba accused Sassou's
troops of launching the attack.
Aid workers, citing radio messages from church sources, said
there may have been renewed fighting on Tuesday in Impfondo.
In another development in the Congo conflict, troops fired
mortar bombs from Kinshasa into Brazzaville across the river,
state radio in Kinshasa said on Thursday.
"Shells from Brazzaville fell on Tuesday on the seminary...leaving two wounded, including a little girl seriously," La Voix du Peuple radio said.
"The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
retaliated towards the Bacongo and Makelekele districts of
Brazzaville," it added.
The radio said the seminary was near the palace of former
dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, ousted by President Laurent Kabila in May.
Brazzaville has been the scene of fighting since June
between political factions allied to Lissouba and Sassou. It
lies across the river from Kinshasa.
Kinshasa radio did not say which side fired the shells from
Brazzaville, but a Brazzaville-based radio station controlled by Lissouba on Wednesday laid the blame on Sassou.
"Kinshasa sent over to Brazzaville about 10 shells that
fell on the Bacongo, Makelekele and Mfilou districts, causing a wave of panic," the radio quoted presidential spokesman Edmond Philippe Galli as saying.
The radio said Kabila's troops acted in retaliation to five shells fired at Kinshasa by forces loyal to Sassou.
The region around Impfondo is normally sparsely populated.
However, in the past four months it has filled up with Rwandan Hutu refugees who trekked across the former Zaire fleeing the advance of Laurent Kabila's rebel troops as they advanced to seize power in Kinshasa in May.
Aid workers fear there may have been numerous casualties
among the Rwandans around Impfondo.
"The military operations haven't been directed against the
refugees, but there were a lot of them around that site," said one aid worker with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kinshasa.
Lissouba's radio station reported that the refugees, who
count members of the former Rwandan Hutu army in their ranks,
had been fighting alongside Sassou, but no independent
confirmation was available.
Throughout the conflict, rival radios have accused the
opposing side of using foreign troops and mercenaries.
Aid workers said the renewed clashes had sparked a further
exodus of refugees from the capital.
Related site:Note: Page will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.