July 7, 2013

DRC CRISIS: M23, Congolese Government Forces Exchange fire

Fresh fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces broke out on Saturday morning in Kanyarucinya area, 10 kilometers outside Goma city.  

The fighting started at around 5am and escalated at around 7:30am according to the rebels.  Amani Kabasha Baba, the M23 civilian spokesperson told the media on phone from the rebel base in Bunagana near the Uganda border in Kisoro that, the gun battle started after government troops backed by Tanzanian forces under the United Nations Intervention brigade  attacked their positions.

Kabasha says the rebels forces have been instructed to defend their territory and the civilian population. He says despite coming under fire from government forces, they are still committed to  finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Lambert Mende, the Congolese government spokesperson has confirmed the attack on the rebel position. He says the attack was carried out on government orders in an attempt to secure Goma city from falling into rebel control. According to Mende, contrary to the claims by the rebels that they were 10Km away from Goma city, they are just 2KM outside the city.

The fighting comes days after MUNUSCO vowed to stop the M23 advance towards Goma City to prevent them from capturing the city like they did in 2012. They occupied  Goma city  briefly but were forced to withdraw and engage in peace talks as a result of international pressure.

The talks are still underway in Kampala. The rebels are pushing for equal service delivery, release of all political prisoners, disbandment of the country’s electoral Commission and equal treatment of the Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese. They also want fresh and transparent Urban, Provincial and Municipal elections saying the incumbent officials are rogues, who have caused citizens a lot of suffering.

They also want government to drive out all Rwandan and Ugandan rebel forces, which they say have forced thousands of people to flee their homes. By the time of filing this story, no causalities had been reported yet from both sides.

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