KIVU- A Congolese rebel leader General Nkunda has said that his group holds prisoners of war from Rwanda’s Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels.
“For me it’s a state of war... we have prisoners of war from the FDLR who were attacking with the government troops,” he told BBC.
The dissident army officer says there is a state of war between the government and his forces in the east of the DRC.
Gen. Nkunda, a Munyamurenge, accused the government of forming an alliance with FDLR to attack his troops.
Heavy fighting is reported in the Kivu region, with the Congolese army moving troops into the area.
The UN refugee agency says tens of thousands have fled from their homes. The UNHCR says people are afraid of being caught between government forces, former Rwandan rebels and troops of General Nkunda.
Gen. Nkunda told the BBC his forces had handed over Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels to the UN peacekeeping mission, known as Monuc.
He said he could not support a government that was working with Hutus and would not accept an order to disarm his forces.
The BBC’s Africa analyst, Martin Plaut, says that the government and the general are now well armed and supplied and an uneasy standoff is currently in place.
DR Congo Defence Minister Tshikez Djemu said that if soldiers allied to Gen. Nkunda refused to lay down their arms, they would be considered bandits and be dealt with accordingly by the army.
Tension is nothing new to North Kivu but it has suddenly increased after the government’s decision to dismantle what are known as the mixed brigades.
These brigades, created earlier this year, were made up of government soldiers and more than 7,000 former rebels. They joined the brigades on condition that they would remain deployed as a group to protect their own community, the Tutsis, against Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom took part in the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis. BBC