File photo - A young man suspected of being a militant supporter of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi reacts in fear as police threaten to kill him, as he lies on the floor of a police truck after being arrested.

More than 15 000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo fled into neighbouring Uganda over the Easter weekend, army officials in Kampala said on Wednesday.

The exodus comes in addition to 10 000 people who have fled the eastern DR Congo to Uganda in recent months.

Tensions have been rising in the restive east, as fighting intensifies between the Congolese army and rebel soldiers. Among the latest influx to Uganda are nine rebel fighters who have been detained.

Bosco Ntaganda, a Congolese general wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crime charges, is reportedly leading defections from the DR Congo army, sparking battles in the Kivu region.

“Ntaganda's forces fought battles with the Congolese army and temporarily took over Bunagana (town). This caused panic among the population and they fled across the border,” Robert Kamara, a Ugandan military spokesman, told dpa.Sapa-dpa