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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid