Saturday July 7 2012

600 Kabila soldiers flee DR Congo into Uganda

By Alfred Tumushabe, Fred Anyine & Robert Muhereza

More than 600 DRC government soldiers and 60 policemen have fled into Uganda running away from Gen. Bosco Ntaganda attacks in Ruthuru Province that has been overrun by his rebel forces - M23.

Twenty-five government soldiers were reportedly wounded. UPDF Second Division spokesperson Peter Mugisa, who was in Kisoro District, said M23 has taken control of DR Congo Busanza territory bordering Uganda in Kisoro.

“A whole battalion of Congolese soldiers and some policemen have fled into Uganda. The M23 overrun the territory near the border area at Bunagana.

We have disarmed soldiers and they are being kept at 63 Battalion in Kisoro,” Capt Mugisa said. By Friday evening, normalcy had returned in Busanza area in Ruthuru province in the Eastern DR Congo where fierce fighting had been reported.

But refugees continued to flock into Uganda in their thousands, some pitching camp at Bunagana border post and others being led to Nyakabande Transit Centre 20km away in Kisoro town.

Capt. Mugisa said 25 Congolese soldiers who fled into Uganda are injured and are being treated at Kisoro hospital.

“Major Mpinga Bia who was the commander of the soldiers at Karambo Battalion said 800 fled during the fighting. On Uganda side we have registered 580, and 25 of them are injured they are being treated at Kisoro Hospital,” Capt. Mugisa said.

The attacked battalion is located less than a kilometre from Uganda border town of Bunagana. Capt.

Mugisa, who was speaking from Bunagana last evening, said he did not see any M23 forces around the area. “I didn’t see any soldiers in the area that the rebels have captured,” he said.

Soldiers flee

The Kisoro RDC, Hajji Ahamed Doka, put the number of refugees who came in since Thursday to over 20,000. At least 60 Congolese policemen also fled into Uganda.

Hajj Doka said fighting began on Thursday around 3am and went on throughout the day and Friday morning. On April 8, heavy fighting in the same area caused an influx into Uganda of more than 6,000 Congolese refugees. Nine soldiers belonging to Gen. Ntaganda militia group then surrendered to Uganda People’s Defence Forces and were handed to Congolese government.

Capt. Mugisa said the situation on Uganda side is calm. “A part from the influx of the refugees, there is no problem, the situation is very calm,” he said.

Kisoro security and political leaders were in a meeting to plan on how to react to the development especially the fleeing civilians.

Sources in Kampala also confirmed that top security officers have been dispatched to Kabale District to study the situation. Eastern DR Congo is hot bed of conflict and is largely controlled by militias.