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Rwanda President Warns of Troops to Congo

May 1, 2004

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Rwandan President Paul Kagame warned he will send troops back into neighboring Congo if Rwandan insurgents continue attacking from bases there, state-run radio reported Saturday.

But Kagame dismissed U.N. claims that several hundred Rwandan soldiers were in eastern Congo on April 21, violating the terms of a peace deal that ended Congo’s five-year war.

Rwanda said its soldiers had not entered Africa’s third-largest country since pulling out in October 2002. Kagame accused the U.N. mission in Congo of providing false information, Radio Rwanda reported Saturday.

The war in Congo started in August 1998 after Rwanda sent troops there to back Congolese rebels seeking to oust then-President Laurent Kabila, accusing him of backing insurgents who threatened regional security.

The troops withdrew 18 months ago under a peace deal in which Congo pledged to disarm Rwandan rebels operating inside its borders. Since then, however, Rwanda has complained that Congo has refused to fulfill its end of the deal.

Recently, reports emerged that Rwandan insurgents were massing in Congolese border provinces preparing for attacks on Rwanda.

On April 8, Rwandan rebels based in eastern Congo attacked a village inside Rwanda. They were repulsed by government troops, who killed at least 16 insurgents, Rwandan officials said.

The United Nations and Congo should ``be informed that we shall not hesitate to send our troops back into Congo if the attacks continue,″ Radio Rwanda quoted Kagame as saying. ``We shall do it, and do it in broad daylight.″

The Rwandan rebels include former soldiers from the army and the extremist Interahamwe militia. They fled to Congo after leading the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which more than 500,000 people were killed.

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