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Aid needed for thousands fleeing attacks

NAIROBI, 6 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - An estimated 7,400 civilians who fled violence in May in the Democratic Republic of Congo's South Kivu Province are in urgent need of relief aid, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported on Friday

"The humanitarian situation is urgent [with] mass displacement in the area amid increasing tension and threats of new attacks," IRC said in a statement.

The displaced, from the village of Nindja, have sought refuge in and around the town of Walungu after Rwandan Hutu rebels attacked their homes on 23 May, killing 19 civilians, mutilating others and taking 50 others hostage.

IRC said there have been reports of subsequent ambushes in the region, including one on a truck carrying people who were trying to flee. The head of IRC's rapid response team, Gang Karume, said the attackers cut off hands and feet of several villagers.

Karume's "team brought with them a supply of emergency items, including blankets, plastic sheeting and containers for water, and have since supplemented the initial delivery with soap, emergency food rations and materials to build latrines," IRC said.

IRC added it would bring in additional supplies and was closely monitoring the water supply and sanitation situation to prevent possible outbreaks of disease.

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