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UN, Congo Forces Seize Rebel Bases

  • VOA News

Democratic Republic of Congo map

Democratic Republic of Congo map

The United Nations is increasing pressure on Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo to disarm, a day after U.N. and Congolese forces seized bases of a different rebel group.

Martin Kobler, chief of the U.N. mission in Congo, said in a statement Tuesday that the seizure of the bases is a "strong signal for all armed groups, including the FDLR, [that] the only way toward peace is through voluntary disarmament."

On Monday, the U.N. said troops have been positioned for a joint U.N.-Congolese offensive against the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group that has based itself in Congo's volatile North Kivu province.

Also Monday, U.N.-backed Congolese army troops in neighboring South Kivu province took control of several bases that belonged to the Burundian rebel group FNL.

The moves are part of a broad campaign to subdue the many militia and rebel groups that have operated for years in eastern Congo, competing for control of the area's rich mines, and wreaking havoc on the lives of local villagers.

The attacks prompted the U.N. to create a unique "intervention brigade" for eastern Congo. That force, which is authorized to conduct operations against armed groups in the region, helped the Congolese army defeat rebel group M23 in North Kivu in November 2013.

The FDLR's members include Rwandan Hutu militants who took part in that country's 1994 genocide.

Some FDLR members surrendered and turned in their weapons last year, but many fighters remain at large. A deadline set by African nations for the rebels to disarm expired on January 2.