News / Africa

    M23 Rebels Enter Eastern Congo City

    People flee as fighting erupts between the M23 rebels and Congolese army near the airport in Goma, November 19, 2012.
    People flee as fighting erupts between the M23 rebels and Congolese army near the airport in Goma, November 19, 2012.
    Nick Long
    The rebel group M23 has entered the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, continuing their advance against government and United Nations troops. The rebels say they have taken the airport and witnesses say they are near the city center.
     
    After days of fighting, M23 rebels have succeeded in their drive against the Congolese army and U.N. peacekeepers and advanced into the capital of North Kivu province.
     
    While the exact situation in Goma is fluid, all accounts say that the rebels are gaining ground.

    Democratic Republic of the CongoDemocratic Republic of the Congo
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    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    M23 making advances

    Some residents and several journalists confirm M23’s claim to have taken the airport, on the eastern side of the town. Journalists say the rebels also have captured one of the two main border crossings from Goma to Rwanda, also on the eastern side of town.
     
    Congo analyst Thierry Vircoulon of the International Crisis Group said the situation is taking a dire turn for the worse.
     
    “My feeling is that the city is about to fall and we’ll know that during the course of the day, that’s for sure," said Vircoulon. "And there have been exchanges of fire between Rwanda and the DRC, which means we may not be very far from an open conflict between the two countries.”
     
    U.N. radio in the DRC, Radio Okapi, reports that mortar rounds apparently fired from Rwanda killed four people Monday in Goma and wounded several others.

    • A Congolese Revolution Army rebel, wearing a belt of ammunition, walks down a street in Goma, DRC, soon after the rebels captured the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.
    • A United Nations helicopter flies over Lake Kivu as M23 rebels walk along the shore in the city of Goma, November 20, 2012.
    • People flee as fighting erupts between the M23 rebels and Congolese army near the airport in Goma, DRC, November 19, 2012.
    • A student from the Architecture and Urbanism institute holds a sign protesting against civil unrest outside of their university in Kinshasa. The sign reads: "Too much is too much. What do you want with the Congo."
    • A United Nations armored personnel carrier patrols through the city of Goma following the sound of shell fire and gunshots, November 19, 2012.
    • Congolese Revolution Army rebels walk down a street in Goma, soon after capturing the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.

     
    DRC government accuses Rwanda


    Tuesday’s fighting comes after the government refused a rebel demand to negotiate, saying it would be pointless without involving Rwanda.  The DRC accuses of Rwanda of providing arms and troops in support of M23 - allegations that Kigali continually has denied.
     
    DRC M23 Rebels:

    • M23 fighters were once loyal to a rebel army that assimilated into the national army of Congo in a 2009 peace deal
    • Hundreds of former rebel army members mutinied earlier this year, complaining that the government had not fulfilled promises of better pay and weapons
    • From the mutineers, the M23 - named for the March 23, 2009 peace deal - emerged
    • A U.N. report said there are indications the rebels are getting outside aid. U.N. experts say Rwanda and Uganda are backing M23. Both Countries deny this
    • The U.N. Security Council is considering sanctions on M23 leaders and has demanded an end to "all outside support" of the group
    • Experts say a driving force behind the regional conflict are deposits of tin, gold, tungsten, and coltan, a mineral used in laptops and mobile phones in eastern Congo, where M23 operates
    There are signs the escalating violence is causing problems for the Congolese government.
     
    A leading opposition politician, Vital Kamehre - who came third in the presidential elections last year - has called on DRC President Joseph Kabila to negotiate with M23 to end the conflict and threats to the civilian population.

    Opposition calls for negotiations

    Up until now, the DRC’s opposition parties generally have agreed with the government’s position of rejecting talks with the rebels.
     
    Goma was effectively controlled by a rebel movement until 2004, when the rebels were loosely integrated into the Congolese army. Most members of M32 are former soldiers who defected in April, claiming discrimination and poor treatment by the government.  

    The DRC and Rwanda have fought several wars - the last one during the Congolese civil war, which ended in 2003.
     
    International concern is growing, with France preparing a draft resolution to slap sanctions on the rebels and possibly any elements supporting them. It could be adopted as early as this week.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Malkus from: Phoenix, AZ
    November 20, 2012 1:56 PM
    I wonder why things like this don't fill the news and cause mass outrage across the USA. Murder, child rape, child soldiers, but people would rather have riots because they think rich people should give them more money that they worked for. Pathetic.

    by: Shane
    November 20, 2012 11:08 AM
    What country from the UN is currently in Congo?

    by: Samuel Clark from: Kigali
    November 20, 2012 10:25 AM
    Strange how in this article Rwanda is portrayed as the aggressor when this is actual report from US Embassy today: The U.S. Embassy alerts U.S. citizens to reports of three deaths
    resulting from the November 19 artillery fire into the Rubavu district
    of Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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