News / Africa

M23 Rebels in DRC Say They Can Hit Goma Airport

M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
x
M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
Nick Long
The rebel group M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo has repeated its call for a ceasefire after last week’s fighting outside the city of Goma.  The rebels have also warned that in their current position they can easily target Goma airport.

It is still not clear who started the fighting last week a few kilometers north of Goma or how it started.

Congo's government says M23 launched an attack, while M23 says their men were fetching water and ran into some government allies and a firefight broke out and escalated.

What is clear is that the M23 now commands a highly strategic position north of Goma, a hill with a clear view of the airport runway lined up in their artillery’s sights.

On Tuesday, M23 spokesman Rene Abandi showed journalists the view from the hill at Mutaho.

"I was just showing how we are dominating the international airport of Goma.  We also are in some sense protecting the airport because our soldiers are disciplined and there is nothing that can happen.  If we are seeking a ceasefire it is not because we are weak, it is because we need peace," Abandi said.

Several houses at Mutaho have been damaged or destroyed by shellfire.  Spent cartridges are another sign there was fighting here recently, as both the government and rebels have stated.

Meanwhile, the civil society association of North Kivu province says neighboring Rwanda sent four battalions into Congo last week.  It says one of those battalions fought at Mutaho, and a Rwandan lieutenant colonel was killed there and buried in Kigali a few days ago.

Rwanda has previously denied supporting M23, and the M23's Abandi dismisses the allegation as government propaganda.

"It’s very ridiculous.  A Rwandan colonel died here and was buried in Kigali.  You see it’s like saying, for example, people who are fighting for us came from Mars.  How can I reply?  We would like to know -- that commander was commanding which battalion, when, when it came, and when it came back.  And only a colonel died, can you imagine?  When a battalion or a brigade is fighting and only a colonel dies?," Abandi said.

The civil society group has given what it says are the battalions’ numbers, and a date when it says they went back.  

For its part, the M23 accuses the government side of relying on Rwandan rebels for support.  Abandi said the Congo-based Rwandan rebel group FDLR was fighting alongside government troops at Mutaho.

The United Nations is currently deploying a so-called intervention brigade of more than 3,000 African troops with a mandate to carry out targeted attacks on armed groups in eastern Congo.

Abandi said if the brigade attacks M23, it will be very difficult for the rebels to distinguish between the brigade and the 17,000 peacekeepers who are part of the U.N. mission in Congo, MONUSCO.  Those peacekeepers are mostly deployed to protect civilians at displaced peoples’ camps and elsewhere.   

"It’s a very complicated situation for us.  Blue helmets who come with an offensive mandate while others are deployed in the same areas with a peacekeepers' mandate.  So it’s very difficult for us and actually they have really to separate areas so that we can make the distinction," Abandi said.

Fourteen aid organizations that are active in eastern Congo raised the same issue this week in a joint letter to Mary Robinson, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy to the Great Lakes region.  

"The issue of how the brigade is related to the rest of the mission and how independent humanitarian actors such as NGOs relate to MONUSCO is I think a very big issue. We have to preserve independent humanitarian access," said Frances Charles, spokesperson for the non-governmental organization World Vision in eastern DRC.

The NGOs are also calling on the U.N. not to let the intervention brigade be seen as the sole solution to the eastern DRC’s crisis, or allow it to detract from what they describe as the need for the government to reform the Congolese army and improve governance.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Laz from: cote d'Ivoire
May 29, 2013 12:09 PM
I have the impression that DRC war is an everlasting one.M23 what do you want?

by: Nason Simango from: Rustenburg
May 29, 2013 7:11 AM
The war in DRC will not end by a military means only negotiations

by: Daniel from: East Africa
May 29, 2013 4:59 AM
M23 families are in exile, actually i camps escaping FARDC killings and rape and others in prison. There is a lot of poor governance and poverty in DRC that leads to all above. 50 men of the former CNDP who turned to be M23 were killed in one day when they were still in the FARDC and DRC government is responsible, then what should the world expect.

Greedy are the countries taking the cover of UN to fight for their own selfish interests, now every one knows that Zuma is after the oil in DRC, France has Uranium Interests in the area ...and you dare condemn M23. If the DRC government doesn't want to go back to talks and solve their grievances, they will have to fight with whoever stands in their way to get what they deserve.


by: Oxen from: Mars
May 28, 2013 4:24 PM
Then the fast task of the brigade can be to take over that so called strategic point from these rebels. The rebels need to dis-arm. If UN is not serious about that, the turmoil will continue, The rebels are greedy , just like their masters. The regimes supporting them are entrenched and have not genuine democracy, so DRC need to be realistic, have a strong well trained army to expel the invaders and overcome this rebel nuisance. The leaders like Makenga and others are the problem, not the child solideirs and others forcefully recruited.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More