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HUNDREDS DIE IN AIR ATTACKS, CONGO REBELS SAY

Rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said today that hundreds of people, mostly civilians, had been killed in raids by Angolan and Zimbabwean warplanes.

"Yesterday, our positions were heavily attacked by Angolan and Zimbabwean warplanes, and the result was that hundreds of people were killed -- mainly men, women and children living in surrounding villages," rebel spokesman Bizima Karaha told Reuters.

He said fierce air raids by MiG fighter jets and low-flying helicopter gunships had resumed early today on the rebel front line, 32 miles southwest of the capital Kinshasa.

The report could not be independently verified, but Reuters correspondents in Kisantu, about 32 miles further west, said they had heard gunfire throughout Monday.

Karaha said the rebel soldiers knew better how to seek shelter, and so had suffered fewer casualties than civilians.

Angola and Zimbabwe have both deployed troops to support Kabila, who is facing a revolt led by ethnic Tutsis in his vast central African country. Karaha, formerly Kabila's foreign minister, defected to the rebels after the uprising broke out on Aug. 2.

In Angola's northern enclave of Cabinda, an airport worker told Reuters by telephone today that a new column of men and equipment had moved into west Congo by land for a fourth straight day.

Parks Mankahlana, a spokesman for South African President Nelson Mandela, said the search for a diplomatic solution to the Congo conflict was continuing today.

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