KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- An escalating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo threatened to plunge the war-torn area and newly democratic state into turmoil.
A conflict with the Congolese army and renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda hinges on unresolved issues from the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war and undermines national efforts at stabilization, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The civil war erupted as ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis in neighboring Rwanda spilled over to engulf the Democratic Republic of Congo in a conflict that lasted to 2003.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes as Nkunda's forces trounced army troops in the city of Goma. U.N. peacekeepers operating in the area prevented the renegade forces from taking other nearby towns, the Times said.
The escalating conflict comes despite years of international effort to quell the violence in the struggling African nation.
"This situation now is the worst we have had" since 2003, said a senior U.N. official working in Goma. "And it is going to get much, much worse."
The confrontation comes on the heels of rhetoric from leading Congolese army officials who said last week that peace was at hand.
"Kinshasa is in a panic," one senior U.N. military official told the Times. "They gambled everything on a military solution and were humiliated."
Copyright © 2007, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.