Rwandan Army Sweeps Eastern Congo
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ The Rwandan army has captured hundreds of Hutu rebels in a sweep of Congolese territory adjoining its border, a senior Rwandan military officer said Tuesday.
Nicholas Shalita, a Rwandan military spokesman, denied there were any ``new deployments″ or special operations in Congo. But the Rwandan officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sweep in Congo’s Rutshuru region began Friday.
Nineteen civilians have been killed, Uganda’s New Vision newspaper on Tuesday quoted refugees as saying.
Rwanda and Uganda backed a yearlong Congolese rebellion to oust President Laurent Kabila. They have signed a peace accord ending the fighting, but Rwanda says it will not withdraw its troops from Congo until Hutu rebels are uprooted from their bases in the eastern half of the country.
The rebels are remnants of Rwandan Interahamwe militia and ex-government forces that carried out the genocide in 1994 of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Kabila later recruited them to help put down the rebel threat. In March, they claimed responsibility for the killings of eight foreign tourists in nearby Bwindi National Park.
``We are carrying out a very big mop-up exercise,″ the Rwandan officer said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Congo. ``There was valid information that there were some remnants of the Interahamwe. Indeed we found some operating there and the operations are going on very well.″