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Congo Refugees Flood Across Border

January 5, 1999

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) _ Thousands of refugees from neighboring Congo have been flooding across the border into the Central African Republic to escape fighting in the region, immigration authorities said Monday.

The influx comes amid warnings of rebel advances in northern Congo, close to the border with the Central African Republic.

Most of the refugees in the capital, Bangui, have been temporarily housed at police stations in the city, a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees official said.

Congo’s President Laurent Kabila has been battling a rebel movement since August. The rebels, with support from ethnic Tutsis and Rwanda and Uganda, had marched to the eastern outskirts of Congo’s capital early on in their campaign, but were pushed back by Kabila’s allies.

Recent fighting in Congo has been reported just across the border from the Central African Republic in the town of Zongo, a few miles south of Bangui. On Saturday, rebels said they had captured Zongo.

In Congo, a government army spokesman on Monday announced plans to send more allied troops to the northern border region. Guy Kasongo denied reports that Zongo was in rebel control.

Update hourly