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Joint operation "killed 90 FDLR rebels"

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Goma: A joint DR Congo and Rwandan operation has killed nearly 90 Rwandan rebels in the east since January 20 when the offensive was launched, the commander of the operation said Tuesday.

Lieutenant-General John Numbi also charged that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) had "massacred 32 civilians and burned six villages" in retaliation against the joint operation.

Numbi said 87 FDLR rebels have been killed, while eight were wounded and 19 captured by the joint forces since the surprise operation was launched last month.

In addition, "140 rebels who gave themselves up have been repatriated," he told the Rwandan and Congolese defence ministers and high-ranking officers at a briefing in Goma, the capital of DR Congo's eastern province of Nord-Kivu.

Five Congolese soldiers and three Rwandan troops were killed, while 12 coalition soldiers were seriously wounded, he added.

The FDLR claimed on Monday that they had killed at least 70 Congolese and Rwandan soldiers in the past month. Available figures suggest there could be more than 6000 men in the rebel force that the international community blames for much of the carnage that has left the east of DRC in crisis after another since 1994.

The rebels said only four of their fighters had been killed, five were missing, six were captured and 20 deserted.

Rwanda said at the weekend that it will pull out its troops from its neighbour's territory from Wednesday and described the joint drive as a success.

On Monday, senior military chiefs from both sides were in Goma apparently preparing to see off the yet to be known number of Rwandan soldiers in the country for the offensive.


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