Congo: Rebels seize two towns, Rwandan envoy expelled

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GOMA, Congo –


Rebels seized management of two main cities in jap Congo and doubled the territory they maintain after fierce combating Saturday with the Congolese army, authorities mentioned.


Congo’s authorities later ordered the Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega, to go away the nation inside 48 hours, reacting to M23 rebels seizing each Kiwanja and Rutshuru Centre close to their shared border.


Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, an allegation Rwanda has repeatedly denied. The determination by Congo’s excessive defence council to expel Karega was anticipated to additional ratchet up tensions between the two nations whose relations have been fraught for many years.


The UN peacekeeping mission generally known as MONUSCO, in the meantime, mentioned 4 of its peacekeepers have been wounded in Kiwanja on Saturday warning it could “retaliate vigorously” if there have been “additional aggression in opposition to its bases.”


Fierce combating erupted Saturday morning between the Congolese military and M23 rebels in Kiwanja, which is 70 kilometres (43 miles) from the regional capital, Goma.


John Banyene, president of the native civil society, later advised The Associated Press that the rebels now managed each Kiwanja and Rutshuru Centre.


“As we communicate, we verify that the M23 rebels and their allies management the city of Kiwanja, however the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo will not be giving up,” Banyene advised journalists in Goma.


Daniel Subuka, a Kiwanja resident contacted by phone by AP, mentioned he noticed well-armed M23 rebels making their method into Kiwanja and others heading towards Rutshuru Centre.


There was no speedy affirmation from Congolese authorities or the army on the reported seizure of the two cities.


However, the UN peacekeeping mission put out a press release saying it “strongly condemns the hostile actions of the M23 and their severe penalties on the civilian inhabitants.”


MONUSCO “warns that it stands able to retaliate vigorously within the occasion of additional aggression in opposition to its bases,” the assertion mentioned, detailing that two of the wounded peacekeepers had been hit by mortar hearth.


The M23 rose to prominence greater than a decade in the past when its fighters seized Goma, the biggest metropolis in Congo’s east, which sits alongside the border with Rwanda. After a peace deal, lots of M23’s fighters have been built-in into the nationwide army.


Then the group re-emerged final November, saying the federal government had didn’t stay as much as its decade-long guarantees. By June, that they had seized the strategic city of Bunagana close to the border with Uganda.


Nearly 200,000 individuals already had been displaced over the previous yr even earlier than the most recent surge in violence, which is now blamed for forcing at the very least 40,000 individuals to flee in solely every week’s time.


M23 has been a flashpoint for relations between Congo and Rwanda: Many of the M23 fighters are Congolese ethnic Tutsis and Rwanda’s president is of Rwandan Tutsi descent.


In August, a report by UN specialists mentioned that they had “stable proof” that members of Rwanda’s armed forces have been conducting operations in jap Congo in help of the M23 insurgent group.


Rwanda, although, has repeatedly denied the allegations and has accused Congolese forces of injuring a number of civilians in cross-border shelling.


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Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro in Beni, Congo contributed.

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