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Violence erupts in Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The United Nations says there is a massive displacement of people under way as a result of an upsurge of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fighting has erupted in the east DRC province of North Kivu between government forces and former DRC General Laurent Nkunda loyalists. The clash is forcing the civilian population to flee their homes in an effort to escape the violence, the U.N. peacekeeping mission to the DRC, MONUC, reported.

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"The United Nations is working closely with the government of the DRC and with others to help bring peace and security to this troubled region," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. "The Secretary-General calls on the forces of Laurent Nkunda to lay down their arms."

Official say as a result of the renewed violence, 4,500 MONUC blue helmets have been deployed to the region in an effort to defend the provincial capital of Goma, DRC. William Lacy Swing, the head of MONUC, has confirmed that Sake, DRC, remains under the control of the U.N. mission while Nkunda militants have captured Mushake, DRC.

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"Since the clashes began in North Kivu earlier this year, MONUC has transported more than 25 tons of provisions for the Congolese armed forces, conducted 33 air reconnaissance missions and evacuated 151 wounded FARDC soldiers," the release said.

Current U.N. estimates say that up to 70,000 internally displaced persons have moved from camps near Goma. Officials say more than 400,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu in the past 12 months.

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