News / Africa

DRC Troops Retake Territory Left by Rebels

FILE - Congolese soldiers patrol the town of Rutshuru in eastern Congo, January 28, 2009. FILE - Congolese soldiers patrol the town of Rutshuru in eastern Congo, January 28, 2009.
x
FILE - Congolese soldiers patrol the town of Rutshuru in eastern Congo, January 28, 2009.
FILE - Congolese soldiers patrol the town of Rutshuru in eastern Congo, January 28, 2009.
Reuters
Congolese government troops have re-occupied eastern towns for the first time in eight months after rebels weakened by an internal power struggle withdrew and turned their weapons on each other.

The advance is the first significant progress by Congo's army since a series of defeats last year, but raises fears of fresh clashes with M23 fighters who are intent on reclaiming the same areas after peace talks stalled.

Government troops moved into the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja on Friday night to protect the population from bandits and armed groups who had taken advantage of the M23 rebel pullout to prey on civilians, a spokesman for the army said.

"Since last night, those areas are under government control. [M23] left those areas and it is for us, the regular forces to take our responsibilities and secure them... against the pillaging, rape and killings,'' Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters by telephone.

Hamuli said there were no immediate plans to move against nearby M23 positions but the rebels accused the government of "pure provocation'' and said their forces were en route to re-occupy the same zones.

"There is a risk [of clashes] because the government has left its positions and come to provoke us. M23 warns Kinshasa and the international community that anything that happens now is the government's responsibility,'' said Colonel Vianney Kazarama, M23 spokesman.

Eastern Congo has been ravaged by war and banditry for two decades, leaving millions dead through violence and disease. Civilians are regularly caught in the crossfire between armed groups and the country's notoriously ill-disciplined army.

Power struggle

Until internal divisions manifested themselves this week in violent clashes between different factions, M23 controlled vast swathes of territory and last November briefly seized Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
x
FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
The split reflects a power struggle between the group's military high command and the renegade general Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

Ntaganda defected from the Congolese army to M23 last April, taking hundreds of fighters with him and helping fuel the eastern rebellion.

In a separate communique late on Friday, M23 said Ntaganda and the movement's ousted political head were hiding in the dense forests of Virunga National Park after a failed attack on M23 positions.

"Firm and precise instructions have been given to our forces to capture [them] so that they can answer for their acts,'' said the communique, signed by M23's military commander Sultani Makenga.

A spokesman for the faction loyal to Ntaganda, Colonel Seraphin Mirindi, denied they had fled into the forest, saying they were just north of Goma. He also accused Makenga of planning a deal with the Congolese army, something Kinshasa has repeatedly said it would not consider.

"If they're going to make an alliance and attack us we will defend ourselves, and we know how to do that, we're used to it,'' he added.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid