French troops in Congo clash

French soldiers sent to protect civilians from violence by rival ethnic militias in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been involved in an exchange of fire for the first time.

A military spokesman said there were no French casualties in the clash with unidentified gunmen about six kilometres (4 miles) from the town of Bunia, which lasted about 20 minutes. The BBC’s Mark Doyle, who visited Bunia this week, says the Lendu and Hema militias resent the foreign military presence and it was perhaps inevitable that one of them would test the French-led international force. Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in the past two months which has pitted Hema militia now based inside Bunia against their Lendu enemies, who are currently mainly to the south. French troops began arriving in Bunia earlier this week under a UN mandate to protect the civilian population, using force if necessary. Full Story

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