Democratic Republic of Congo rebels M23 have finally taken over Goma, the country’s main city in the east.
The group’s spokesman Col Vianney Kazarama confirmed this development to the media saying
“The town of Goma fell at 11:33 local time, despite the attack helicopters, despite the heavy weapons, the FARDC (Congo army) has let the town fall into our hands,”
Earlier, the rebels had announced on their Facebook wall that Goma city’s Airport was under their full control.
Congolese military had vowed to defend the city but according to reports, the city has fallen in the hands of the rebels.
“Contrary to rumors, the city of Goma is still under the control of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC),” Governor Paluku assured the residents of the city on Sunday.
M23 is led by mutinying soldiers who rose up eight months ago, contending that Democratic Republic of Congo’s
government violated a 2009 peace deal that was meant to integrate them into the army.
The vast central African nation was shattered by wars between 1994 and 2003 that killed about 5 million people.
Many eastern areas are still plagued by violence from a variety of rebel groups, despite UN-backed efforts to defeat them.
The rebels Monday demanded that the government open peace talks within 24 hours or see a continuation of fighting around
the eastern city. The DRC government quickly rejected the demand.
The U.S imposed sanctions on the group’s leader Sultan Makenga while the United Nation Security Council condemned the fighting
in the city calling for a ceasefire.
Last month, a UN report accused both Uganda and Rwanda of backing the rebels, a charge the two nations denied.