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Rebels, army clash in DRC's Goma

20 May 2013, 11:31

Goma - Rebels from the M23 movement and the army fought on Monday just north of Goma, a regional capital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that the rebels had occupied briefly in November, both sides said.

An M23 spokesperson, Amani Kabasha, said the clashes were taking place 12km north of Goma. Colonel Olivier Hamuli, spokesman for the DRC's armed forces, confirmed the fighting was taking place, without saying if there were casualties.

Hamuli said the rebels had threatened the Congolese forces for a week.

The fighting is the first to have occurred since the rebel movement withdrew from the North-Kivu provincial capital of Goma in December last year.

It also occurred as the first troops belonging to a UN intervention brigade arrived this month for their mission to take on rebel groups.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit the DRC on Wednesday as part of a tour that will take him to Goma as well as to Kigali and Entebbe.

M23, named for a peace deal with the DRC government signed on March 23 2009, emerged out of an ethnic Tutsi mutiny in the army in April 2012, on the grounds that the DRC government in Kinshasa was not upholding the pact.

The rebels seized Goma in November last year, but pulled out after 10 days following promises of dialogue with Kinshasa. Since the withdrawal, it has held positions a few kilometres from the city.

The DRC and the United Nations accuse the rebels of being supported by neighbouring countries Rwanda and Uganda, which the two deny.



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