Congo clashes as 'Terminator' Ntaganda deadline expiresBy BBC | Friday, May 11 2012 at 16:40
Heavy fighting has broken out in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as a deadline expires for army mutineers to surrender.
Thousands of Congolese villagers fled over the Ugandan border overnight, officials in Uganda said.
Last weekend, the army gave the hundreds of fighters who defected last month five days to turn themselves in.
They are loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, who is known as the "Terminator" and wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.
Congolese people who are arriving in Uganda in their thousands say they fled because of heavy gunfire near their villages, Ugandan officials in the border town of Bungana say.
The fighting, estimated to be about 5km (three miles) from the border, began on Thursday night and is reported to be continuing.
The number of Congolese refugees in Rwanda has more than doubled in the last week to 7,000 - and many thousands of other civilians are pouring into displaced people's camps near the regional capital, Goma.
On Thursday, regional authorities said some people had begun to return to their villages during the ceasefire, but independent reports from the region say residents are still leaving their homes.
In the last five days about 100 of the fighters have returned to the army and large stockpiles of weapons have been recovered, according to a military spokesman.
There are an estimated 900 renegade soldiers still at large, according to sources close to the mutineers.
There has been criticism from civil society groups in the province that the military's five-day ceasefire and ultimatum has given the defectors time to regroup.
They are believed to be split into three groups with some 400 fighters with Gen Ntaganda, between 80 and 250 with Col Sultani Makenga near the Rwandan border and an estimated 500 fighters with Col Innocent Kayina close to Uganda.
To the south in South Kivu province, 18 officers, who were captured not long after they mutinied, are due to go on trial on Friday charged with the capital offences of insurrection, mislaying weapons and ammunition and disobeying orders.
Their lawyer says they defected because of a general hostility against troops integrated from the CNDP rebel movement since 2009.
The Congolese authorities have blamed the recent violence squarely on Gen Ntaganda and have called for his arrest, but say they want to try him themselves, rather than sending him to The Hague.
People in and around the town of Goma blame these fighters for persistent unrest - including looting and rape - since the formal end of DR Congo's war in 2003.
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