KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo downplayed suggestions that a Rwandan rebel group was present in large numbers in a border province.
The U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC, known by its French initials MONUSCO, said members from a fact-finding mission were able to dispel rumors about the presence of members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French initials FLDR.
The mission said it was able to show that rumors regarding the number of Rwandan rebels, government support for said rebels and the presence of rebel commanders were unfounded.
"However, the mission confirmed the presence of FDLR members in several localities and villages in (eastern DRC,)" said MONUSCO in a statement. It added that some rebels were collecting illegal taxes from the civilian population in the area. The number of fighters, however, was around a few hundred, as opposed to rumors of 4,000 FLDR rebels.
Rwanda is accused of supporting rebel forces in eastern DRC, an allegation the government denies.
The U.N. Security Council this week imposed sanctions on FLDR leaders and those from the March 23 movement, mutineers who seized a provincial capital in eastern DRC briefly in December.