RealNews

Fight to Control Congo Airport

Thousands of fighters from two warring ethnic groups were engaged in a pitched battle yesterday in a small valley near an airport here controlled by United Nations forces. In the same area, an airplane carrying Congo’s minister of human rights was fired upon and hit yesterday as it approached for landing, sources said. The plane quickly abandoned its descent and headed east to land safely with one engine on fire in neighboring Uganda. No one was injured. Although it was not clear who was behind the attack, it reportedly came from an area occupied by fighters of the Hema tribe, who are pitted against their mortal enemies, the Lendu. “The two groups are fighting for the control of the airport,” said a source in Bunia. “But the UN is there, waiting for them.” Control of the airport is critical because it remains the only route for UN supplies, troop reinforcement and evacuation. Fifty new UN soldiers arrived in Bunia yesterday, bringing the total peacekeeping force to about 450. Both tribes are struggling for control after this week’s pullout of 7,000 Ugandan troops, who were the last foreign occupying force in the country, formerly Zaire and now officially the Democratic Republic of Congo. A peace deal struck last year called for the half dozen African nations with troops in eastern Congo to withdraw ahead of elections set for two years from now. Full Story

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