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Fighting Continues in DRC Despite Calls for Cease-Fire

Fighting between Congolese troops and M23 rebels continued near the Ugandan border Monday despite calls for a cease-fire from the leader of the rebel group.

United Nations and Congolese officials say four civilians were killed by shelling in the DRC border town of Bunagana. The town was retaken by Congolese soldiers in a push last week, but some rebels are said to remain in the nearby hills.

Also Monday, Congolese troops said they had retaken Mbuzi, one of the few hilltops the rebels had under their control.

On Sunday, rebel M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said he wanted a cease-fire to allow stalled peace talks with the government to go forward. Months of peace talks between the two sides have repeatedly stalled.

Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende told VOA Monday the rebels must commit to a series of steps to demobilize, not just enact a cease-fire.





He added that with the army's recent gains, he expects the fighting will be over in a matter of days.

The rebels consist of fighters who joined the Congolese army in a 2009 peace deal, but later defected after complaining of poor treatment.

Bisimwa told VOA the rebels are fighting for "security."



"We know that (in) this part of Congo, the eastern part of Congo, there are many, many groups, foreign groups, who are killing, who are raping, and we can't continue to accept this."



He said M23 is fighting to give local residents an opportunity to get jobs and build roads, hospitals and schools.

The United Nations has pressed the two sides to agree to a peace deal as part of efforts to stabilize the eastern DRC.

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