Democratic Republic of Congo Information Minister Lambert Mende said government forces are in complete control of the eastern city of Goma, despite reports that M23 rebels were just a few kilometers outside the city.
Weekend fighting between government and rebel forces forced thousands of Goma residents to flee their homes.
Mende accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels. Rwanda has denied a U.N. report accusing Kigali and Uganda of supporting the M23 rebels.
“The attempt to capture Goma by Rwandese and their ally M23 failed due to resistance from the Congolese army that enjoys also full support from MONUSCO troops, in order to protect the civilian population in our territory. But, Goma is still under full control of the government of the DRC, and the governor, local authorities, and even the higher command of our army, they are all in Goma to defend our country,” he said.
Mende said MONUSCO helicopter attacks on rebel positions were in line with the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force.
"This is the way to protect civilian populations because those guys are killing, destroying and raping, as reports from NGOs [and] from [the] United Nations have shown. It will be a nightmare if they enter in a town like Goma with millions of people. So, it is the duty of the UN force to prevent such [a] situation and stop them from entering Goma because, if they enter there, we will lose hundreds of thousands of lives. That is why it is conformity with their mandate,” Mende said.
Butty interview with Mende
Mende said the Congolese army will vigorously defend against any outside attack by those he said may be calling themselves “gods.”
The renewed violence coincides with the release of a U.N. report repeating accusations that elements in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda are supporting the rebels.
Rwanda and Uganda have strongly denied they are supporting the M23.