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Rebels deny Nkunda 'was fleeing'
DR Congo group says rebel chief was visiting Rwandan town for talks when arrested.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2009 15:47 GMT

Nkunda is currently in Rwanda awaiting extradition back to DR Congo [AFP]

 

Laurent Nkunda, the Tutsi rebel leader arrested last week by the Rwandan authoritities, was not fleeing DR Congo, his rebel group has said.

Bertrand Bisimwa, a spokesman from Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of  the People (CNDP), said the rebel leader had travelled to a Rwandan town for talks when he was arrested.

"He went to Gisenyi to discuss action against the Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (Hutu rebels) and was arrested there," Bisimwa said on Sunday.

Nkunda was arrested during a surprise joint operation by Rwandan and Congolese government troops who were ordered to flush out Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels.

He is currently in Rwanda awaiting extradition to DR Congo.

Joint operation

The CNDP leader stands accused of war crimes committed in the Congolese town of Bukavu, the capital of Sud-Kivu province, which his forces briefly captured in June 2004.

On Friday, Rwandan and Congolese forces engaged the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), some of whom took refuge in eastern DR Congo after participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, killing nine fighters.

The two armies released a statement on Saturday, confirming the deaths of the FDLR rebels during clashes.

But the FDLR has denied that fighting took place with the joint force, saying that none of its fighters had been killed.

Ignace Murwanashyaka, the FDLR chairman, told the AFP news agency: "This is all a lie. They killed none of our men for the simple reason that there has not been fighting between our troops and this coalition."

"According to reports reaching me from the ground, the Kigali and Kinshasa armies fought with the Mai-Mai ... Nine Congolese soldiers were killed and one wounded in the clashes," Murwanashyaka said, referring to a Congolese rebel group.

Source:
Agencies
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