Desperate Battle Defines Congo's Warlike Peace
At the southern extreme of a ragged front line that winds 1,400 miles across Congo lies a ferry, dirty pink and half-submerged in the muddy Luvua River. Facing it on a gravel ramp stand the burned-out husks of 33 military vehicles -- armored personnel carriers, trucks, an ambulance -- waiting in a line that never moved forward. Unopened syringes lie underfoot, amid charred tires and a trampled note that a fleeing Congolese junior officer left behind:
"Attaque," reads the neat cursive French.
But by the time Rwandan forces approached Pweto on Dec. 3, the Congolese government army was in no position to attack. It was in panicked retreat, leaving a tableau of ruin on the riverbank and opening a rare window on a war usually fought out of sight.
In two months of back-and-forth fighting here in the southeastern corner of Congo, all the elements that make this country's 21/2-year-old war such a dangerou...