1. Archive

Key events in the war

Published Oct. 1, 2005

A chronology of Zaire's conflict:

Oct. 7, 1996: Deputy governor of South Kivu province tells 300,000-member Banyamulenge community _ ethnic Tutsis settled in the region for generations _ to leave Zaire within a week or "be hunted down as rebels." Warning sparks a revolt.

Oct. 24: Rebels seize their first major town, Uvira on northern shore of Lake Tanganyika.

Oct. 30: Rebels capture Bukavu, capital of South Kivu province. Bukavu's Roman Catholic archbishop is among the dead.

Nov. 1: Rebels and Rwandan soldiers capture Goma, main town in east; about 500 people killed.

Nov. 2: International aid workers flee Goma, leaving 1.1-million refugees in east Zaire without U.N. support or aid.

Nov. 14: Rebels bombard Mugunga, the biggest refugee camp, with rockets, mortars and heavy artillery for six hours.

Nov. 15: Frightened Rwandan Hutu refugees surge out of Mugunga and other camps, head for home. Up to 700,000 return to Rwanda; rest flee west with armed Hutus blamed for 1994 genocide of minority Tutsis there.

Jan. 20, 1997: Zaire launches counteroffensive.

Jan. 30: Rebels advance on several fronts, including mineral-rich Shaba Province; army counteroffensive frustrated.

Feb. 5: Rebel leader Laurent Kabila gives President Mobutu Sese Seko until Feb. 21 to quit or face all-out rebel offensive.

Feb 17: Zaire launches air strikes, bombing rebel-held towns of Bukavu, Shabunda and Walikale.

March 1: Aid workers leave Zaire's third city of Kisangani, citing lack of security; rebels capture Lubutu to the south and abandoned refugee camp of Tingi Tingi.

March 3: Rebels capture Kindu; Zaire's main human rights group speaks of persistent reports of rebels massacring Hutus in east; rebels give army until March 13 to lay down weapons.

March 5: Zaire agrees to U.N. cease-fire plan.

March 8: Rebels say U.N. plan basis for talks; truce later.

March 15: Rebels capture Kisangani.