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UN sanctions 4 armed leaders in Congo

Three Rwandan rebel leaders and a Congolese military officer suspected of recruiting child soldiers and other abuses were named Wednesday on the U.N.'s worldwide travel ban and assets freeze aimed at stemming widespread violence in Congo.

The U.N. missions for France, Britain and the United States said in a joint statement that they asked the U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee for the unusual step of naming the four men on the list because their "actions have undermined stability" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The three leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda named on the list are: Gaston Iyamuremye, Felicien Nsanzubukire, and Leodomir Mugaragu. The group, known by its French acronym as the FDLR, is the main remnant of the Rwandan Hutu rebel organization operating in eastern Congo.

The fourth person added to the list is Innocent Zimurinda, a lieutenant colonel in the government's Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"These designations demonstrate the international community's continued determination to fight against those who oppose the disarmament of rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and those responsible for the recruitment of children and serious human rights abuses," the statement said.

The 15-member Security Council earlier this week extended its sanctions on armed groups operating in the African country by another year.

Its sanctions committee is working with a group of experts in hopes of cutting off arms and financing to armed groups that commit widespread rapes, murder and other violence in the course of their illicit mineral trafficking.

Two other top FDLR leaders under investigation for war crimes and human rights violations were arrested in Germany last year after the U.N. applied pressure for their capture.

A U.N. report released Monday said armed groups in Congo's east, including the army, have shunned international reform programs to form criminal networks that exploit the nation's mineral wealth, with one group even trying to sell a small amount of uranium.

Eastern Congo has been torn by violence since Rwanda's 1994 genocide spilled war across the border, with Hutu militias who participated in the massacres of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus seeking refuge there.