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13,000 people flee Congo's Pool region

13,000 people flee Congo's Pool region

Republic of the Congo

The United Nations refugee agency says an estimated 13,000 people have been displaced by fresh fighting between rebels and government forces in the pool region of the Republic of Congo.

The violence has been concentrated in the country’s southeast, where members of the Ninja Nsiloulou militia have battled the army.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva, “We are afraid some 13,000 displaced people soon may not have enough to eat.

People in the area are “also having trouble getting health care and education because so many state-employed medics and teachers have fled,” he added.

The rebel group, commonly known as the Ninjas, fought two civil wars against the government in the 1990s and were seen as having disbanded after agreeing to a peace deal in 2003, although sporadic clashes have continued.

Spindler said that the rise in violence in recent weeks has included an attack on a military vehicle in southeast Mindouli district that killed two people.

The rebels are led by Frederic Bintsamou, a Protestant pastor who is called the Prophet by his admirers.

In October, at least 14 people were killed including children in an attack on a train in Mindouli also blamed on the Ninjas.

Congo has been on edge since a constitutional referendum last October ended a two-term limit on presidential mandates, allowing the 72-year-old head of state to extend his 32 years in power.

AFP

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