Angola steps up security patrols along DRC border

Luanda - Angola said on Wednesday that it was reinforcing security patrols along its northern border through which thousands of refugees have fled violence in the Kasai region of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The Angolan police has intensified patrols on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent the infiltration of armed groups into our national territory," police chief Ambrosio de Lemos said on public RNA radio.

The DRC's four central provinces of Kasai, Kasai-Central, Kasai-Oriental and Lomami have been gripped by a violent uprising since last year.

The fighting erupted after government forces last August killed tribal chief Jean Pierre Mpandi, also known as Kamwina Nsapu, who had launched an uprising against President Joseph Kabila's government.

The violence has forced an wave of refugees to Angola, where more than 9 200 refugees have been registered so far.

"All the Congolese refugees who are on our national territory are treated in a humane way," De Lemos said.

The fighting in Kasai has already killed at least 400 people, and the United Nations said early this month that it had discovered 23 mass graves in the region.

On Wednesday, the UN said it had found 17 new mass graves in the region.

The bodies of two UN experts, who were kidnapped along with four Congolese nationals on March 12 while investigating potential violations of a UN arms embargo, were found in a grave two weeks later.

The UN accuses the rebels of recruiting child soldiers and committing widespread atrocities.

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