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  Hundreds of thousands died in Rwanda in 1994
  By Chris Simpson in Kigali March 2, 1999
  The abduction of foreign tourists in the Bwindi National Park in Uganda is being blamed on Rwandan rebels known as the Interahamwe.
  The Interahamwe are viewed by the Rwandan authorities as the remaining hardcore of the force which carried out much of the mass killing during the genocide of 1994.
  Close to five years on, the Interahamwe militias are still fighting their own war, sometimes inside Rwanda, but now more often just across the border.
  Cross-border war
  The Rwandan Government says a large-scale military campaign has cleaned up the troubled northwest of Rwanda, but accepts that the rebel units have since regrouped in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
  The Interahamwe's exact strength is not known, and it has proved difficult to identify a clear political and military leadership.
  But there have been reports that thousands of Rwandan rebels have been brought under arms by Congo President Laurent Kabila to support his fight against Congolese rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
  Mountain strongholds
  A report last year by the United Nations confirmed that the Interahamwe were still receiving arms and money from outside supporters.
  The militia's main strongholds are thought to be in the mountains which straddle the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  It is a region of volcanoes and thick forests, which is also home to hundreds of mountain gorillas.
  But wildlife tourism, once a lucrative source of revenue, has been severely hit by the continuing conflicts in this part of Africa, and the Interahamwe have made a point of targeting gorilla sites.
  The abduction and killing of tourists is now seen as an important tactic for a rebel movement anxious to boost its profile abroad and to cause fresh security worries for the authorities in Rwanda and Uganda

 November 13, 1998
  The rebels are pushing westwards
  A senior opposition figure in Chad, Jean Alingue, has called on the government to withdraw the troops it has supporting President Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  The call follows confirmation by the Chad Government that its troops were ambushed by rebels opposed to President Kabila in northern Congo.
  BBC West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle says it is not clear why Chad has sent troops as it does not share a border with Congo.
  Mr Alingue, a former prime minister, said Chad did not have a defence accord with Congo and there was no legal basis for the deployment of troops.
  A Congolese rebel faction and their Ugandan allies said they killed over 200 soldiers from Chad in an ambush at the end of last month. The Chad Government has admitted only a handful of casualties.
  Ugandan Chief-of-Staff Brigadier James Kazini, told the BBC by telephone from the war zone that two Chadian battalions were defeated when his men and the Congo rebels captured the northern town of Dulia.
  Businessman turned Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba spoke of a "slaughterhouse" after a Chadian column was ambushed.
  "Our men killed 200 Chadians, and took 37 prisoners, including two colonels," Mr Bemba said.
  A local Red Cross official told the BBC he had personally buried over 100 Chadian soldiers.
  Three Chadian prisoners in the rebel-held city of Kisangani told the AFP news agency that Chad had sent two battalions to recapture the town of Buta, an important transport crossroads also held by the rebels.
  They said they fell into the ambush on their way to Buta.
  Hutus enter Congo
  In another development, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has said several thousand ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda four years ago have now crossed into Congo.
  The UNHCR said it feared they were going to fight alongside President Kabila's forces.
  The Hutus, who fled Rwanda after the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority in 1994, had been living in Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic.
  Our correspondent says they are natural allies of President Kabila, who is fighting a rebellion backed by the predominantly-Tutsi Rwandan government.
  Chad, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have all sent troops to assist President Kabila's government in Congo. Rwanda and Uganda have admitted backing the rebels, who have captured a significant portion of Congolese territory in the last three months.
  Most of southern and eastern Africa has now been drawn into efforts to solve the Congo crisis either by diplomatic or by military means.
August 27, 1998
  President Kabila said troops in Kinshasa were taking part in a "mopping up operation"
  Zimbabwe is sending reinforcements to the Democratic Republic of Congo after a day of heavy fighting in the capital, Kinshasa.
  State media said a plane-load of troops had already left Harare.
  Soldiers from the 600-strong Zimbabwean force already in Kinshasa have been helping to defend the international airport east of Kinshasa which came under rebel attack on Wednesday.
  Meanwhile Italian missionary sources now put at more than 200 the number of civilians killed by rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  A Catholic news agency said the victims of the massacre were buried near the town of Uvira.
  It said ethnic Tutsi rebels attacked the civilians suspecting them of supporting the government of Laurent Kabila.
  Several missionaries were among those reported killed.
August 26, 1998
  Kinshasa awoke to the sound of gunfire and explosions
  Government forces and rebels are fighting near Kinshasa's international airport on the outskirts of the capital.
  The sound of heavy gunfire and several explosions was heard in the city on Wednesday morning coming from the direction of Ndjili International Airport, 30km south-east of Kinshasa.
  The airport is heavily defended by government troops in addition to Zimbabwean troops that arrived on Tuesday in the capital.

 August 24, 1998

  Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo say the Angolan army - which has intervened in the conflict on the side of President Laurent Kabila - has made further advances against rebel positions west of the capital, Kinshasa.
  The Portuguese news agency, quoting Angolan military sources, said that the rebels had been forced out of the ports of Moanda and Banana, situated on Congo's Atlantic coast.
  It said both towns fell on Sunday.
  The reports could not be independently verified.
  Central African war
  Meanwhile African leaders are urging the rebels and forces loyal to President Kabila to call a truce. They fear the conflict could escalate into a regional central African war.
  Earlier, both sides acknowledged that the rebels had lost control of the nearby airbase at Kitona.
  But the rebels made gains in eastern Congo, capturing the third biggest city, Kisangani.
   Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
  Volunteers of the People's Self-defense force to resist agressors
  Congolese radio has broadcast a statement by a major loyal to President Laurent Kabila which repeats CALLS FOR THE CONGOLESE "TO TAKE REVENGE" ON THE RWANDANS AND "MASSACRE THEM WITHOUT MERCY".
  The statement, by Maj Mudenke, was made on French-language Congolese RTNC radio from Bunia, in the northeastern district of Ituri close to the border with Uganda, at 0500 gmt on August 12:
  A sizeable troop reinforcement arrived in Bunia yesterday accompanied by the 225th Brigade Commander, Sulungu Nembezo, the commander in charge of operations in the east of the country. The terrific Myumba himself arrived to take charge of the operations.
  "Be glad, keep your courage," Maj. Myumba told the residents who welcomed him with much applause ... "the deaths caused to us by the Rwandans are indescribable and incalculable.
  "We have come here to take revenge. The war will be a lengthy, large and vast one, because we will show the toads that never, and never ever again will they swallow the elephant.
  "We will repulse them, and this time round, we will pursue them into their territory and do to them what they did to us in our soil. 
  "Be ferocious. If you happen to encounter a Rwandan enemy. ... beat him to bruises."
  Maj. Mudenke then quoted from an address by the "smiling and confident" Ituri District Commissioner Mugeni:
  "Ituri, which swore loyalty to President Kabila, will not be captured.
  "The entire population has become a military population from today onwards.
  "You will detect enemies and massacre them without mercy, victory is assured."
  The Ituri residents shouted loudly: Revenge!
  The same radio station, Congolese radio from Bunia, at 0430 gmt on August 8, broadcast a commentary urging its listeners to attack Rwandan Tutsis:
  "Reverting to the march... IT SHOULD BE STRESSED THAT PEOPLE MUST BRING A MACHETE, A SPEAR, AN ARROW, A HOE, SPADES, RAKES, NAILS, TRUNCHEONS, ELECTRIC IRONS, BARBED WIRE, STONES, AND THE LIKE, IN ORDER, DEAR LISTENERS, TO KILL THE RWANDAN TUTSIS, who are currently in Ituri District and continue to spread information against the Congolese by means of radiotelegraphy with the sole objective of dominating us.
  "So we are clearly saying: No! to the invaders. We also say no to the formation of a Tutsi empire on our territory.
  "We also say no to the expansion of Rwanda into the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  "We say: No! to Tutsi hegemony, we say no to reviewing borders fixed by the Berlin Conference in 1885..."
  Regard Rwandan Tutsis as the enemy
  "The Congolese Armed Forces have just kicked out of Kisangani town all the Tutsis, who are now in disarray in the equatorial forest of Bafwasende.
  "Dear listeners, ladies and gentlemen: Open your eyes wide Those of you who live along the road, jump on the people with long noses, who are tall and slim and want to dominate us...
  "Dear Congolese compatriots: Wake up, be aware of our destiny so as to defeat the enemy."

A truck full of government soldiers passes through streets of the capital, Kinshasa Sunday. Many foreign nationals have been evacuated as the rebel forces prepare the final assault on the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

  Tuesday, August 4, 1998

  Reports from Kinshasa say that government troops have launched an offensive against the eastern town of Bukavu, one of the areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo where rebel forces are in open revolt against President Laurent Kabila.
  One government source, the Justice Minister, Mwenze Kongolo, was quoted by the French news agency as saying the rebels had fled the town. 
  But another, the Interior Minister, Gaetan Kakudji, said that fighting was still going on.
  Mr Kakudji said the rebel soldiers are mainly ethnic Tutsis backed by troops from neighbouring Rwanda were holding part of the town, which is on the border with Rwanda.
  "The Banyamulenge (ethnic Tutsis) backed by Rwandan troops are in one part of the town while our forces control another," Mr Kakudji said.
  A Bukavu resident said the fighting began early on Tuesday with heavy bombardment. He said it was impossible to say who controlled the town.
  United Nations sources also reported fighting overnight in the town of Uvira, 120 km (75 miles) south of Bukavu.
  The government on Monday imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kinshasa, following sporadic gunbattles there. .
  Officials of the government of President Laurent Kabila accused Congolese Tutsi forces and Rwandan troops of starting the violence. The government has urged its neighbours to resist the temptation to involve themselves in an army rebellion.
  However, a Rwandan military spokesman has denied there were any Rwandan soldiers in the country. 
  'Withdrawing support'
  Earlier, the military commander of the Congolese Army in the eastern town of Bukavu said he and other army units in the east were withdrawing their support from Mr Kabila's government, accusing him of driving the country on a downward slope.
  Witnesses said the border between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda was closed because of fighting involving the Congolese armed forces and ethnic Tutsis of the Banyamulenge group.
  Soldiers in three towns - Goma, Bukavu and Kindu - are said to be involved in the uprising.
  In Kinshasa, rival soldiers clashed in a military barracks and a nearby base, both of which have been sealed off by government troops. 
  The BBC correspondent in Kinshasa, William Wallace, says it remains unclear whether the fighting in the capital has been provoked by heightened tensions within the military or by a serious bid by dissidents to take power.
  The unrest follows President Kabila's decision last week to order Rwandan troops to leave the former Zaire.
  Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated army helped spearhead the seven-month bush war that brought Kabila to power in May 1997.

 August 4, 1998
  Laurent Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire - rose to power with the backing of the Tutsi-led government in neighbouring Rwanda.
  Relations with his former allies now appear to have soured.
  The BBC Africa correspondent quotes diplomats as saying Mr Kabila has pursued too independent a line for his former backers since taking power last May. He has also moved against ethnic Tutsis in his administration and army.
  Zaire's Tutsis
  Rwanda's involvement with President Kabila dates back to the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when an estimated one million Hutu refugees fled to Zaire.
  To Rwanda's consternation, Zaire's refugee camps quickly became a base for extremist Hutu militia - who had been largely responsible for the genocide.
  By 1996, there were reports that Hutu militia and elements of the Zairean security forces were persecuting Zaire's own Tutsi community, known as the Banyamulenge.
  Kabila's rise to power
  Although the Banyamulenge communities had been in Zaire for centuries, they were - and remain - unpopular with the Congolese.
  In what regional analyst Amelia French dubs "a marriage of convenience", Laurent Kabila, a long-time opponent of Mobutu Sese Seko, sided with the Banyamulenge rebel movement, which was backed by the Tutsi-dominated authorities in Rwanda.
  In October 1996, Kabila's "Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire" launched an offensive against the Zairean Government.
  With the help of ethnic Tutsis and the Rwandan army, Kabila's alliance took control of over half the country - larger in size than western Europe - within seven months.
  Laurent Kabila declared himself President of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 17 May 1997.
  Rwandan troops ordered out
  After Kabila'a rise to power, elements of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army remained in DR Congo. Officially, they were said to be there to help build up a new army. But correspondents say they also wanted to keep an eye on their neighbour.
  Within the DR Congo there were fears that Rwanda's presence was too dominant. President Kabila was seen to be allied with a Tutsi minority that was increasingly unpopular.
  At the end of July Mr Kabila ordered his former allies to withdraw.
  Key dates
  1960 Former Belgian Congo gains independence
  1965 Mobutu Sese Seko becomes President of Republic of Congo - later called Zaire
  1994 Rwanda's genocide sends an estimated 1 million Hutu refugees fleeing into Zaire
  1996 Laurent Kabila's rebel movement launches offensive against Zairean government
  1997 - May 17 Laurent Kabila declares himself president of the Democratic Republic of Congo
  1997 - September Mobutu Sese Seko dies of prostate cancer

 August 10, 1998
  The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has escalated quickly, once again raising fears of wider regional instability. Below is a quick guide to the basics:
  Who is Laurent Kabila?
  Laurent Kabila is the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, previously named Zaire. When he toppled the former ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, just 15 months ago, there was great optimism in the country.
  But since then he has angered many by outlawing political opposition and closing newspapers. He has also been criticised for failing to implement meaningful reform to restore jobs and deliver some 40 million Congolese from dire poverty.
  How did the rebellion begin?
  At the end of July President Kabila ordered Rwandan troops to leave the Congo.
  Correspondents say he was playing on fears among many Congolese that Rwandans - who were officially in the country to help train the Congolese army - were too dominant.
  But in the east of the country, where disillusionment with Kabila's regime was strongest, and the people ethnically-aligned with Rwanda, the move triggered a revolt by a faction of the army.
  Why are other countries involved?
  President Kabila has blamed the uprising on Rwanda, saying his country has been invaded by foreign forces. He has also accused Uganda of sending troops and tanks across the border.
  Both countries deny any involvement.
  But correspondents say that in Rwanda's case at least, there is a clear motivation for involvement.
  Rwandan troops helped Laurent Kabila come to power in 1997. He also enjoyed the support of Uganda and Angola, both anxious to put an end to Mobutu's corrupt regime.
  But these countries may have lost patience with the Congolese president. They each have vital interests in the country's political stability.
  Rwanda: says Laurent Kabila has failed to control Hutu militia on Congo's eastern border, who were largely responsible for killing more than 500,000 Rwandans in 1994, and have since been waging attacks inside Rwanda from bases in Congo.
  Uganda: also shares a border with Rwanda, and is concerned about regional security. It also faces rebel attacks from within Congolese territory by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces.
  Angola: wants to prevent supplies to Unita rebels from passing through Congo.
  How does the ethnic division between Hutus and Tutsis play out in the current conflict?
  The revolt partly echoes the ethnic upheavals which have torn the region since 1994's mass killings of Tutsis by the Hutu majority in Congo's eastern neighbour Rwanda.
  An estimated one million Hutu refugees - among them extremist militias who had taken part in the mass killings - poured into eastern Zaire when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front took control in Rwanda.
  There was friction between them and the local Congolese Tutsis - the Banyamulenge who, with military backing from the new Rwandan leaders, helped Laurent Kabila oust Mobutu, waging war on the Rwandan Hutu militias in the process.
  The latest fighting was triggered when Banyamulenge in Laurent Kabila's army mutinied in response to his decision to expel their allies - troops from the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan army - from Congo.
  The Kabila government then accused Rwanda of invading to back their ethnic kin, the Banyamulenge.
  How successful have the rebels been?
  In a matter of days, rebel forces took control of a number of key towns in the east, and the oil town of Muanda on the west coast.
  They quickly advanced to some 300 kilometres from the capital Kinshasa.
  Correspondents say the success of the rebel forces suggests that they do indeed have backing from Rwanda, and that the rebellion was well-organised and planned in advance.

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