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DRC Troops Target Rebel Site Near Goma

  • Gabe Joselow

Young boy walks toward FARDC government forces tanks near the front line in Kanyaruchinya, 15 km from Goma, DRC, July 24, 2013.

Young boy walks toward FARDC government forces tanks near the front line in Kanyaruchinya, 15 km from Goma, DRC, July 24, 2013.

The Congolese army says it has attacked an M23 base near Goma, a city that was briefly captured by the rebel group last year.

Army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli says Wednesday's military strikes targeted the rebel group's storage sites for weapons and ammunition.

But the rebel group says military helicopters bombed a nearby neighborhood, striking the village of Kavodo, close to Rumangabo, killing several people.

“They did not attack any military position, they attacked only houses and people who were around Rumangabo,” said M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa.

An M23 spokesman emailed photos showing destruction and dead bodies the group claims is a result of the attack, and a doctor at a hospital treating victims said three children were killed as well as an adult, and that seven others were wounded.

The army denies civilians were killed.

The French News Agency says M23 rebels also claim more than 400 troops have been killed since the unrest erupted almost two weeks ago.

M23 captured Goma in November before withdrawing under intense international pressure. The group has been demanding the government fully implement a 2009 peace deal that is designed to integrate rebels into the Congolese army.

Meanwhile, the DRC government has welcomed a U.S. call for Rwanda to end its support of M23.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department urged Rwanda to stop backing the rebel group. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said M23's renewed fighting "seriously undermines regional and international efforts" to peacefully resolve unrest in the eastern DRC.

DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende told VOA on Wednesday he would like to see the United States take action against Rwanda, particularly in the form of sanctions, because the country seems "reluctant to follow any advice that is being given to [it] by the international community."

The United Nations, rights groups and other western nations have long asserted that Rwanda has provided backing for the rebel group, a claim that Kigali has repeatedly denied.

A Human Rights Watch investigation published Monday accuses M23 of committing grave abuses in areas under their control, including killings and rape.

In June, the United Nations said a report from international experts contained evidence that Rwandan military officers had been helping M23. Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo denied the charge and said it was "disingenuous."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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