DR Congo fighting: Goma clashes 'kill 19'

Government troops fight rebels in eastern DR Congo - 18November 2012 Government troops fought with rebels as the M23 took control of the regional capital, Goma last year

Fighting between government and rebel forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has continued for a second day, near the regional capital, Goma.

Four government soldiers and 15 rebels died on Monday, government spokesperson Lambert Mende told the BBC.

These are the first clashes between the two sides since the rebels pulled out of Goma last year.

The UN said it would speed up the deployment of a new intervention force in response to the violence.


It was a familiar sight at Kanyaruchinya, 10km (6 miles) north of Goma: White armoured personnel carriers had taken up positions along the road. Indian peacekeepers wearing blue helmets sat peering through binoculars. A group if civilians stood around in a tight knot, waiting to see what would happen. Sporadic shots rang out from the surrounding hills.

The sense of security the UN soldiers provide is little more than an illusion, as the people here know only too well. The force, known by its acronym, Monusco, has repeatedly pledged to stand its ground. It has repeatedly failed. In November it stood by as the rebels overran Goma.

The UN is in the process of boosting its forces with 3,000 extra troops, who will have a more aggressive mandate to actively pursue the rebels. But peace may still prove elusive: By some estimates there could be as many as 50,000 armed men in the region, belonging to several dozen armed groups.

A 3,000-strong brigade is being sent to neutralise and disarm the rebels, with the first contingent arriving last week.

"Considering what has happened I think we must expedite the deployment so they will be fully responsible as soon as possible," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told AFP.

The BBC's Maud Jullien in the capital, Kinshasa, says the government believes the M23 is trying to disrupt the deployment of the UN force.

Mr Ban is due to visit DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda later this week.

The two sides exchanged artillery and mortar fire north of the city of Goma, with each accusing the other of provoking the clashes.

Fighting in Mutaho, 10km (6 miles) east of Goma, broke out early on Tuesday after M23 rebels tried to take back positions lost to the army on Monday, Col Olivier Hamuli told AP.

In a statement to AFP, M23 denounced the "military option" taken by the government and reaffirmed its commitment to peace talks.

Peace talks began following the withdrawal of M23 troops from Goma in December but have stalled in recent months.


On Monday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the BBC that UN troops had "in some cases" made the situation in DR Congo worse.

He said any military effort to bring peace to DR Congo needed to be "properly co-ordinated" with political efforts.

Mr Kagame dismissed long-standing UN allegations that Rwanda backed the M23.

Some 800,000 people have fled fighting since the M23 launched its rebellion last year.

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