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Hundreds flee fighting in East DR Congo

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Hundreds flee fighting in East DR Congo

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Hundreds of people are running for their lives, after the latest violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On foot, wheeling bicycles, carrying water and a few belongings, they are the face of a humanitarian crisis in the east of the country.

Increased fighting between the army and General Laurent Nkunda’s Tutsi rebels has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people.

Many sought refuge in the town of Kiwanja, 80 kilometres east of Goma. But on Thursday, the illusion of safety there was shattered, as Human Rights Watch accused the rebels of killing dozens of civilians in the town. The latter said they only targeted pro-government militia.

In a ten-week offensive, Nkunda’s rebels have captured swathes of land in the country’s east. The conflict is fuelled by ethnic hatred left over after Hutus slaughtered Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda 14 years ago.

The UN has mounted a diplomatic offensive at a regional summit in Nairobi. Regional African leaders have called for 3,000 more peacekeepers to back up the 17,000-strong force, thinly stretched in the country. Officials have urged the UN Security Council to act quickly to prevent full-scale war.