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U.N. says Congo cease-fire crumbling

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Violence spreads as warlord's forces and government troops clash

KIWANJA, Congo - A fragile cease-fire in Congo appeared to be unraveling Thursday as the U.N. said battles between warlord Laurent Nkunda's rebels and the army spread to another town in the volatile country's east. The latest fighting took place in the town of Nyanzale in North Kivu province, said U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Madnoje Mounoubai.

He said the army abandoned its positions "and a large number of displaced also fled the combat" and sought shelter near a U.N. base.

Speaking from behind rebel lines west of Kiwanja, Nkunda told The Associated Press that army forces backed by pro-government militias attacked rebel positions before dawn in Nyanzale. "We were attacked three times this morning," he said. "My soldiers have a right to defend themselves."

He said the army had also taken part in fighting Saturday in two other towns in the region: Mweso and Kashuga. The army could not immediately be reached for comment.

'Treasonous government'

Nkunda also reiterated a threat to march on the faraway capital. "This is a treasonous government that is betraying the people of Congo and that is why we will continue to fight until we reach Kinshasa," he said.


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