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Zaire Gangs Loot Aid After Pullout

Associated Press

Zairian gangs looted aid supplies after American troops pulled out of a base near the Goma airport Thursday during a day of violence that left at least two Zairians dead and 10 wounded.

No one was hurt in the raid on the unguarded base, but it created new fears among the 800 foreigners working for 45 aid groups in Goma and further disrupted relief efforts.

“We seem to be operating in the camps in a virtual state of war,” said Ray Wilkinson, a U.N. refugee agency spokesman.

Aid workers have urged that U.N. peacekeepers be sent to the Goma region, but no such force is under consideration. A U.N. force is patrolling across the border in Rwanda, but its mission is limited to trying to stabilize that nation after a brutal, 3 1/2-month civil war.

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Sporadic gunfire was heard throughout the day as gangs of Zairian soldiers looted homes of civilians and then fought with each other over the booty. Witnesses said they saw the bodies of at least two Zairian soldiers.

The shooting added to violence that has been escalating in the camps around Goma that hold about 800,000 Rwandan refugees.


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