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Leaders from several armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have decided to end their deadly clashes, particularly between the ethnic Hutu and Hunde communities, a Western non-government organisation said Thursday.
The deal should stop the ethnic conflicts which have occurred in this region over the last few months, and which the United Nations said have caused 264 deaths and displaced tens of thousands of people.
"It's an historic event," Danilo Giannese of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) said of the agreement Tuesday in Masisi.
For the first time, Giannese told AFP, hundreds of fighters belonging to different groups and representing ethnic Hutus and Hunde met.
The JRS said the agreement involves on the Hunde side Colonel Janvier Buingo Karairi, Alliance of the People for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS), and Colonel Bwira, who heads the Defence Forces of Congo-Guide, and on the Hutu side Nyunga Munyamariba, as well as Colonel Kapopi, head of the Mai Mai Nyatura.
"We urge the population to forget the errors of the past. There are no more Nyatura or APCLS, nor Hutus or Hundes. For now, we are all members of the same family," Colonel Janvier said.
Nyunga Munyamariba, chief of police of Lushebere, said the day "marked the end of tribalism in the Masisi," a territory west of Goma, which is capital of the mineral-rich and unstable province of North Kivu.
"We must bring peace to the region and love each other like brothers and sisters," he said.
In early September, a delegation of local authorities had urged the Hutus and the Hunde to stop their clashes, following abuses carried out against the villages of both ethnic groups.
In the middle of November, a UN investigation revealed that at least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily executed by armed groups.