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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid