News / Africa

    Fighting Erupts Between Soldiers, M23 in DRC

    Congolese army soldiers march into Kibumba town after recapturing it from M23 rebels over the weekend, around 25km from the provincial capital, Goma, Oct. 28, 2013.
    Congolese army soldiers march into Kibumba town after recapturing it from M23 rebels over the weekend, around 25km from the provincial capital, Goma, Oct. 28, 2013.
    VOA News
    The Democratic Republic of Congo's army has recaptured the eastern town of Bunagana, one of the last remaining strongholds of rebel group M23.
     
    Government officials and witnesses say troops entered the town near the Ugandan border on Wednesday after M23 abandoned its positions there.
     
    The rebel group seized Bunagana and other towns in Congo's North Kivu province when it launched a rebellion last year.
     
    There has been heavy fighting in the region since last Friday when U.N.-backed Congolese forces launched an effort to retake the towns.
     
    The fighting over the past few days has prompted thousands of civilians to flee across the border into Uganda. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says it expects the number of civilians seeking shelter in Uganda to swell to 10,000 by the end of Wednesday.
     
    The agency's Uganda spokeswoman, Lucy Beck, says a first wave of civilians fled in anticipation of fighting, but the situation changed on Wednesday.
     
    "The people who have arrived today, the biggest majority of them have come because they are in areas that are being attacked," she said. "So, many have seen the fighting. They have heard the bullets and that's why they have crossed."

    Story continues below
    • Congolese soldiers arrive on a truck at Rumangabo military base, formerly held by M23 rebels, north of Goma, Oct. 28, 2013.
    • An abandoned M23 rebel tank, destroyed by Congolese soldiers, is pictured near the Rumangabo military base, formerly held by the rebels, north of Goma, Oct. 28, 2013.
    • Congolese families displaced by fighting between the army and the M23 rebels move to safer areas in Kibumba, north of Goma, Oct. 27, 2013.
    • Rockets are fired from a Congolese army vehicle in the direction of M23 rebels in Kibumba, north of Goma, Oct. 27, 2013.
    • Congolese soldiers move to front line positions as they advance against the M23 rebels in Kibumba, north of Goma, Oct. 27, 2013.
     
    Beck says relief workers are struggling to cope with the influx of refugees.
     
    "It is a struggle. At the moment, we have in place assistance for about 5,000 people so what we are doing right now is working on ... more shelters so that we can provide a roof over people's heads and also working on the hygiene situation, providing latrines for people to use. These are the two key areas."
     
    M23 consists of rebel fighters who joined the Congolese army in a 2009 peace deal but later defected after complaining of poor treatment.
     
    Earlier this month, the U.N. said the peace talks in Uganda between the government and the rebels had stalled. Negotiators said the two sides remained apart over proposed amnesty for the rebels.
     
    Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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    Comments
         
    by: John Wilson from: Bunagana
    October 30, 2013 12:41 PM
    Thank you to the Congolese Army ( FARDC) for liberating those areas under the control of the Rwandan-Ugandan led rebels called M23.
    Now to consolidate peace, please set up army barracks in the areas taken, allow dialogue between different communities in the areas so they can leave peaceful and prosperous lives as commerce is restarting. And please keep an eye to borders with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan, buy a drone to do the job if need. Excellent job and congratulations to the Congolese Army and the Congolese government. May God bless the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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