DR Congo army readies for jungle assault on mutineers
6/2/2012 8:10:44 PM -
BUNAGANA, DR Congo (AFP) - Congolese troops on Saturday readied for a new offensive against army mutineers, with one general saying an attack in the mountainous jungle would come within four days.
Soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo have for months been hunting ex-rebels who joined the army under a 2009 peace deal but quit this year over poor conditions.
An AFP reporter saw army regulars reinforcing positions around mutineer encampments in the Nord-Kivu region in eastern Congo.
Extra troops had been drafted in Friday to secure a border post with Uganda, about 90 kilometres (50 miles) north of Goma, the Nord-Kivu capital.
In nearby Bunagana, a regiment was redeployed at several positions previously attacked by the rebels.
"I came to inspect the troops and do some reorganisation," General Vainqueur Mayala said. "And to plan an attack within four days to kick out the mutineers."
His troops were mainly deploying on the hillsides of Virunga National Park, which is home to most of the world's 700 or so remaining mountain gorillas.
The mutineers started leaving the army in early April after complaining about pay, food and limited career advancement opportunities.
For weeks, they have fought in tit-for-tat clashes and resisted army attacks and helicopter bombings.
A renewed army offensive would mark the end of about a week-long lull in fighting.
Kinshasa accuses the mutineers' former chief of staff General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court for enlisting child soldiers, of leading the mutiny.
The violence has prompted the displacement of about 100,000 civilians.