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M23 Rebels in DRC Surrender Weapons

A rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo began surrendering its weapons Wednesday, a day after the group said it was giving up its fight.

Video shot by VOA shows soldiers taking control of artillery and ammunition in the Congolese district of Rutshuru as fighters from rebel group M23 sit idly by in street clothes.

A U.N. representative to Congo, Martin Kobler, declared the end of M23 and said about 15,000 people displaced by recent fighting in the area were on their way back.

A DRC army spokesman in the vicinity, Oliver Hamuli, said Congolese forces now plan to go after other armed groups that operate on DRC territory, such as the Rwandan Hutu rebel group FDLR.

Kobler, addressing the U.N. Security Council by video link from Goma, said U.N. peacekeepers must reinforce their positions along with Congo-Rwanda border, to prevent the FDLR from crossing into Rwanda.



On Tuesday, the leader of the M23 movement, Bertrand Bisimwa, said the group will demobilize and only pursue its goals through political means.

That announcement came hours after Congolese forces pushed rebel fighters from the last two areas in eastern Congo under their control.

M23 leader Bisimwa had asked for a unilateral cease-fire on Sunday to allow stalled peace talks between the two sides to continue, but the government rejected his call, saying it would only accept the end of M23's armed rebellion.

Eastern Congo has endured years of fighting involving the government and various rebel groups, usually over control of the area's rich mines.

M23 consists of fighters who joined the Congolese army in a 2009 peace deal but later defected after complaining of poor treatment. They launched their rebellion in April 2012 and seized territory in Congo's North Kivu province.

Congo has accused neighboring Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23, an allegation both countries deny.

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