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Africa

2003-05-19

AFRICA/D.CONGO - TWO UN PEACEKEEPING SOLDIERS KILLED IN BUNIA, MARTYR CITY VICTIM OF CLASHES BETWEEN LENDU AND HEMA TRIBES

Bunia (Fides Service) – Two members of the UN peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo MONUC charged with monitoring the cease fire, were found dead about 70 km from Bunia in the north east Congo. The men, one Nigerian and the other Jordanian who went missing a few days ago, were savagely murdered say local UN sources. “The peacekeepers were probably killed by Lendu warriors although the exact details of the event are still unknown” a local source contacted by Fides Service, reports. “After the fighting in the last few days, the situation is calm although still charged with tension. Fighting between the Hema who have control of the city and Lendu warriors can again break out at any moment” the source tells Fides Service.
“A French technical mission is expected to arrive today (19 May) to verify a possible deployment of French troops to support the 700 strong MONUC force already in the area” says the local source. “In the meantime thousands have left the city in the direction of the southern city of Goma and Uganda. Others are preparing to leave and three camps have been set up with about 6,000 refugees in each; one near the MONUC headquarters, another at the airport and the third at a locality about 15 km from Bunia”.
The Church has paid a high tribute of blood with three priests killed in a few days. Some 48 people were killed during an attack on Nyakasanza parish including the parish priest Father Francois Xavier Mateso and another priest Father Aime Ndjabu. During the night of 7 May Father Raphael Ngona was murdered in his room.
“Church structures have been completely sacked; diocesan offices, two churches including the cathedral, the major seminary and the Institute of Religious Science” says the local source.
Lendu farmers and Hema semi-nomad herdsmen in Ituri region started fighting in 1999. The Hema are similar to the Tutsi. The conflict has already taken tens of thousands of lives and left 500,000 people homeless. Several local and foreign forces have been fighting since 1998 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Altogether about 3 million people have been killed LM (Fides Service 19/5/2003 EM lines 31 Words: 383)

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