World News

UN Peacekeepers Fight M23 Rebels in DRC

United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have clashed with the rebel movement M23, as fighting between the Congolese army and rebels in the country's east entered its third straight day.

U.N. and Congolese officers said Friday peacekeepers fired at the rebels outside the flashpoint city of Goma after rebel artillery shells killed two civilians. It was the U.N. brigade's first clash with M23.

The army and M23 rebels each blame the other for starting the unrest in Goma, a city of about one million people on the Rwandan border.

Army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli said Thursday the army has the upper hand in the fight.

In a VOA interview, M23 deputy spokesman Lawrence Kingston said the rebel group wants to resume peace talks that began in Uganda, but the government has not cooperated.

"We are still waiting and they are fighting us every single day. So, what [can] one do? We are still waiting. We can not fight them. We ask for cease-fire, but they are bombing people here. They are killing people around here."

The fighting marks the first major hostilities since the army bombed M23 headquarters in July and drove the rebels back several kilometers from Goma.

The M23 briefly took control of Goma last year and still controls parts of North Kivu province. The group has been fighting for political power and control of the region's rich mines.

The M23 is made up of former rebels who were integrated into the Congolese army in a 2009 peace agreement. The rebels later deserted the army, complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

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