Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rwanda, Congo Military Assault Fails to Break Rebels, UN Says

By Franz Wild
Bloomberg.com
May 19, 2009

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's have retaken control of gold mines in the North Kivu province, shrugging off a joint military offensive by Rwanda and Congo's armies, a United Nations report said.

The six-week operation against the Democratic Forces fort the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, whose leaders are accused of participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, "failed to break the FDLR command and control apparatus, which remains intact,"according to a draft report by the UN Group of Experts on Congo.

The UN Security Council, to which the group reports, is currently visiting Congo to assess the success of the joint operations. Two UN officials in possession of the report, which may be published this week, confirmed the authenticity of the document by e-mail today.

"The FDLR continues to control many of the same cassiterite mining sites in South Kivu which were identified by the previous Group of Experts in 2008, and has regained control of important gold mines west of Lubero after initially being displaced from them" during the joint operations, it said.

Backed by troops from neighboring Rwanda, Congo's army in January struck FDLR targets in North Kivu, triggering a spree of reprisal attacks against the civilian population in the region, according to the UN. Congo's troops have continued to clash with FDLR fighters as they prepare a second offensive, which will be carried out with the help of UN peacekeepers, against the group.

The presence of the FDLR in eastern Congo has been a central element to a cycle of violence in which more than 5 million people have died in the Central African nation since 1998.

Gold and cassiterite, or tin ore mines in forests controlled by FDLR fighters generate millions of dollars a year for the rebels, according to a December report by UN investigators.

Notes:
Editors: Paul Richardson, Vernon Wessels.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Kinshasa via Johannesburg at +27-11-286-1999 or pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at +27-11-286-1934 or asguazzin@bloomberg.net

Related Materials:
New Report to Detail Failed Military Operation Against Hutu Rebels

UN Endorses Controversial Peacekeeping Plan for DRC

DRC-UN commanders: Ex-rebels integrated into Congo army responsible for rapes, killings

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