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Despite cease-fire, battles rage in Republic of Congo

October 10, 1997
Web posted at: 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT)

BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (CNN) -- Hours after a mutinous general signed a cease-fire in the Republic of Congo, his forces captured the capital city's airport and pressed on with a months-long offensive that has shattered the African nation.

"We have lost a battle, but that does not mean we have lost the war," Congolese President Pascal Lissouba said in Kinshasa after meeting with Laurent Kabila, president of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lissouba said "Cobra" troops loyal to his main rival, Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, captured the airport in Brazzaville, even though Sassou-Nguesso agreed to a U.N.-brokered cease- fire Thursday.


Cobra representatives, speaking from Brazzaville, said they captured the airport Thursday night. By Friday, the sounds of battle could be heard echoing through the city.

Lissouba made his comments as he left Kinshasa's Intercontinental Hotel. Shortly after his departure, a shell exploded just outside the building, injuring a gardener.

Hundreds of civilians have died in Brazzaville since forces loyal to Lissouba and Sassou-Nguesso went to war on June 5, a month before they were to have faced each other in presidential elections.

U.N. officials had hoped Thursday's cease-fire would ease tensions in the region.


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