News / Africa

    DRC Welcomes ‘Action’ by UN Intervention Brigade

    Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
    Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
    Nick Long
    The United Nations Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new-style U.N. peacekeeping force with a uniquely robust mandate, has finally started fighting, the DRC government said Friday. The force of more than 3,000 troops, mainly from Tanzania and South Africa, has been in eastern Congo for nearly three months and on Thursday opened fire on the M23 rebels.
     
    This was the moment many people in eastern Congo had been waiting for, DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende said at a press conference. "I think we can simply welcome the fact that the brigade has gone into action, since yesterday. It’s a good thing, better late than never.”

    There were about 16,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Congo before the brigade deployed, but they had taken little part in the government's attempt to neutralize the M23 rebels. Doubts had been rising whether the new-style brigade would be any different.
     
    In a second day of fighting Thursday between the army and the M23, some 17 kilometers north of Goma, however, the brigade’s artillery unit from Tanzania fired its field artillery at the rebels’ positions, according to international observers and sources within the Congolese army.
     
    It is unclear who started the latest clashes. An army officer told VOA that government troops had advanced four kilometers since Wednesday, but other sources believe they have moved forward less than two kilometers.
     
    Either way, the city of Goma is still within range of M23 rockets. The M23 captured the strategic objective in November, but then evacuated under international pressure.
     
    Mende said 11 rockets fell on Goma and its outskirts Thursday, killing at least one person and wounding 12. He said experts reported that the missiles were fired from Rwanda. Rwanda has consistently denied supporting M23 and has said that missiles were fired from Congo into Rwandan territory in the past two days.
     
    Experts, including a Congolese army officer, said the rockets that hit Goma more likely had been fired from the M23’s positions.
     
    Mende was asked by a journalist whether DRC should cut off diplomatic relations with Rwanda over the allegations that it has been supporting M23, and that rockets have been fired from its territory at Congo, and his answer was effectively, no.
     
    He said Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, answered that question when he said he would follow the advice of regional leaders by not declaring war on Rwanda or cutting ties with that country.
     
    Mende noted that the president had withdrawn his ambassador from Kigali, though, leaving only lower ranking diplomats at the DRC embassy there.
     
    Congolese army sources say that only the Tanzanian troops in the Intervention Brigade have fired at the M23 so far, and they did so from some ways behind the government forces' front lines.
     
    A U.N. source said the South African government is not reluctant to combat the M23 rebels, but its forces were not needed in the latest engagement, which required only the use of the Tanzanian field artillery unit.
     
    The intervention brigade commander used to be Tanzania’s highest ranking artillery commander.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Oxen
    August 24, 2013 5:37 PM
    The M23 rebels need to be taken out, Kabarebe and Kagame of Rwanda indicted by ICC. Rwanda has caused so much trouble to DRC and must be stopped. If necessary the fight should be taken all the way to Kigali and remove the Kagame , Kabarebe junta. There are a huge menace to the region. In Mid 1990's Kabarebe forcefully dispersed refuges in DRC when fighing to topple Mobutu. Majority of the refuges died or were executed. Rwanda's M23 must be stopped by all means and Rwanda regime reigned in or removed like Idi Amin was removed. If Uganda joins openly too to help the rebels, then the regime there should also be pushed out by force. SADC/UN can easily do that. Those regimes are not popular they are clinging to power by stealing elections, repressions and other forms of brutality and manipulation of masses , corruption and nepotism.
    In Response

    by: Mark from: South Sudan
    August 26, 2013 8:34 AM
    Its really good to know that jealouse and ignorance does not rule this world otherwise your comments would be make the president of the world. Worry not, Rwanda is one of the most success stories in history, so having enemies like you, its no surprise. U wish a war on kigali but don't be surprised when it comes to your doorstep. The regimes are so popular its just that your ignorant to know that. Check the facts u will know.
    In Response

    by: gabriel from: kigali
    August 26, 2013 5:06 AM
    It seems neither Josh is not from Rwanda and definitely not a Rwandan nor Oxen is not aware of any Rwandan History apart from the garbage published by Genocidaires like him!
    Guyz why dont u leave us alone and mind you business after killing our beloved parents and relatives!
    In Response

    by: Josh from: Rwanda
    August 25, 2013 11:52 AM
    Here in Rwanda Kagame's Gestapo continues to abduct people in the middle of the night. while in the same time selling the story of Economic success to the International community. Both kagame and kaguta are liars and serial mass murderers who should be condemned by the International Community and be made to pay for The Genocide of the Congolese people.

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