News24

DRC army mutiny stopped

2012-05-06 21:43

Kinshasa - The Congolese army said on Sunday it has suspended military operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where it claimed that a mutiny has been brought under control.

All week the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) had been fighting defectors as well as hunting  former rebel leader and indicted war criminal Jean Bosco Ntaganda.

But on Sunday, lieutenant general Didier Etumba Longila, said in a statement received by AFP that the threat was over in the area.

Operations against the "undisciplined" in the region had been suspended with all areas where fighting had taken place now under army control, the statement said without giving further details.

"The FARDC have since the night of May 4-5 suspended operations to neutralise these undisciplined soldiers," Etumba said.

However, civilians fearing clashes were still slipping into Uganda for safety at night, residents said.

For the past three days, residents of Bunagana, a town in an area near Rwanda and Uganda often under rebel attack, have been abandoning their homes at night and only returning at daylight, a local resident said.

"In the morning they return to Bunagana to assess the situation and at night they go back to Uganda where they hide their belongings," the resident said.

Ntaganda loyalists

Ntaganda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) had integrated the Congo's regular forces after a peace deal in 2009.

But beginning last week some soldiers loyal to Ntaganda defected from the army, and clashed with national troops in the east of the country.

Late Friday the army already said it had seized control of Mushaki, an area where Ntaganda had been holed up, but sources said the former rebel chief had since moved on to join defectors near Rwanda.

Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes including recruiting child soldiers, last week told AFP he was on a farm near Mushaki with the full knowledge of the army and President Joseph Kabila.

But a former rebel said on Friday he was on his way to join his former rebel lieutenants, passing through Congo's famed Virunga National Park towards Rwanda.

Locals accuse Ntaganda's men of killings, rape and looting.