Twenty-two American missionaries have fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Zambia after a month of fighting between rebels and government troops, the state-owned Times of Zambia reported Thursday in Lusaka.

It said the missionaries drove in a convoy from Lubumbashi to the Zambian mining town of Kitwe early this week and were expected to stay in the country until the situation in the former Zaire returned to normal.The newspaper said Laurence Brop-leh of the United Methodist Church Global Ministries had traveled from New York to evacuate the clerics.

"What we have done is simply a precautionary measure. We are prayerful that the situation will improve in the Congo," he told the newspaper in Kitwe.

The missionaries, stationed in Ka-mina, Likasi and Kabongo, were involved in projects ranging from health and education to aviation, the Times said.