The Democratic Republic of Congo has asked for the extradition of rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda after his capture by neighbouring Rwanda. Gen Nkunda, who has led an ethnic Tutsi rebellion in the east since 2004, is wanted for atrocities allegedly committed by forces under his command.laurent-nkunda

His arrest has been welcomed by the UN envoy to DR Congo. The UN’s refugee agency has expressed alarm at moves to disarm a different rebel group – of ethnic Hutus.Gen Nkunda was arrested in Rwanda, after fleeing attempts to arrest him in eastern DR Congo by a joint military force from both countries.

Correspondents say that it would appear that intense diplomacy has led to a deal under which DR Congo is letting Rwanda take action against its enemies – the Hutu rebels based in DR Congo – in return for taking out Gen Nkunda.

If both groups are neutralised, peace in the region would become a realistic prospect. Some 4,000 Rwandan troops have entered DR Congo this week.

The BBC’s Thomas Fessy reports from the key east DR Congolese city of Goma that there is a sense of relief among residents there, who feel the war is nearing an end.

Rwandan army spokesperson Major Jules Rutaremara told the BBC that General Nkunda was being held by Rwandan forces in Rubavu district in western Rwanda, close to the border with the DR Congo.

DR Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende confirmed his country wanted to extradite the rebel leader. “He is Congolese,” said. “He committed his crimes in Congo.”

Rwanda has not yet said whether it will hand over its former ally. Human rights group have accused Gen Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) – and also government forces – of numerous killings, rapes and torture.

Some 250,000 people fled their homes in North Kivu province when Gen Nkunda led an offensive towards the end of last year.

The UN recently accused Rwanda of backing Gen Nkunda.

A Tutsi like Rwanda’s leaders, he had guarded their western flank against attacks from the Hutu forces who fled there after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

But in mid-November Rwanda shifted its position, announcing it would work with the Congolese to destroy the Hutu rebels.



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