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Rebel Forces Withdraw From Eastern Congo

Rebel Forces Withdraw From Eastern Dr Of Congo Town, Un Mission Says

Rebel forces have withdrawn from Bukavu, a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that they seized last week, and sporadic shooting has died down as government troops have re-entered the town, the United Nations Organization Mission MONUC said today.

“MONUC welcomes both the withdrawal of the dissident troops under General Laurent Nkunda and Colonel Jules Mutebutsi from Bukavu and the return of Government forces under General Mbuza Mabe to the same town this Wednesday, 9 June 2004,” the Mission said in a statement.

The peacekeeping mission would retain its troops in Bukavu and the surrounding areas and, in conjunction with the South Kivu provincial authorities and the Transitional Government, would assist civilians in need, it said.

A UN spokesman in New York said Colonel Mutebutsi and his forces, except for 32 defectors under MONUC guard, had crossed into Rwanda, while General Nkunda’s troops had withdrawn to the DRC town of Goma, north of Bukavu.

Civilians who are accompanied to the closed border with Rwanda are admitted and met by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Stephane Dujarric said.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the humanitarian agencies expect both government and rebel forces to facilitate the provision of assistance to some 3.3 million people, a process which was largely suspended during the violence that started on 26 May.

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