- Renewed clashes in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have erupted between rebels and a pro-government militia, mai mai, despite a week long ceasefire declared by rebel group leader, General Laurent Nkunda, said UN spokeswoman in main town, Goma.
Clashes came as Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito visited the city to assess earlier bloodshed that has displaced a over 250 000 people.
UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy, visiting Goma, said UN mandate was currently to protect civilians and to support the army in disarming rebel forces. "Our mandate is not to defend cities," he said.
United Nations reported that its base was caught in crossfire between General Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People forces and Mai-Mai in the north.
Meanwhile, General Nkunda has threatened to topple DRC government in Kinshasa, 1,580 kilometres west of Goma, unless president Joseph Kabila agrees to hold direct talks.
The government, which has accused Rwanda of backing Mr Nkunda, has refused to hold direct talks with CNDP, saying it wanted dialogue with all armed groups in Kivu region and not just CNDP.
Mr Nkunda's rebels vowed insurgents would march on the capital, Kinshasa, after the government refused Nkunda's demand for direct talks.
"If they won't negotiate with us, then they leave us little choice," rebel spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa said. "We will start fighting again and we will continue until we take Kinshasa."
But a Rwandan government statement issued today said the prevailing assumption that the crisis is a matter between Rwanda and the DRC is wrong, saying is contrary to what some of international community continue to say.
"A meeting between the Rwandan and Congolese leaders is not a solution to Congo's internal crisis," said statement.
Mr Nkunda, who defected from the army in 2004, claims Congolese government has not protected ethnic Tutsis from the Rwandan Hutu militia that escaped to Congo after helping slaughter a half-million Rwandan Tutsis.
He said he is fighting to liberate all of Congo from a corrupt government. He went on the offensive Aug. 28 and brought his fighters to the edge of Goma last week before declaring a unilateral cease-fire.
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