DR Congo Army in `last phase` push against M23 rebels
Kinshasa: Democratic Republic of Congo troops were in a mopping up operation to rout the remaining pockets of the M23 rebel movement, after seizing their last stronghold in a push to finally break the back of the insurgency.
At the same time, a US envoy called Thursday for "semi-permanent" peace talks, saying that the world needed to do more for eastern DR Congo after the end of the M23 rebellion.
Thousands have fled the fighting between government troops and the M23 movement, which was founded by ethnic Tutsi former rebels who were incorporated into the Congolese Army under a 2009 peace deal but then mutinied in April 2012, claiming that the pact had never been fully implemented.
Congolese troops were carrying out operations against the rebel resistance in territory near the Ugandan border, following an offensive launched six days earlier, a local resident in the town of Jomba said, reached by telephone.
The resident, who asked not to be named, told a news agency that a little girl had "been wounded by a bullet" in the latest fighting but gave no details.
"The soldiers spent the night here and then went to the front" at dawn, he said.
Sustained gunfire could be heard on the phone, as the source confirmed that the warring sides were also using heavy weapons.
A source in the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), which is helping the Army, said the offensive against the M23 was in "the last phase", after the Army captured the main rebel base at Bunagana on Wednesday.
Diehard M23 fighters, estimated at just a few hundred men, were dug in on three hills in farming territory about 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Goma, the capital of strife-torn North Kivu province.
The Congolese Army (FARDC) "has encircled the residual M23 positions to dislodge them. The operation is under way," the source said.
Since fighting resumed on October 25, after peace talks collapsed in Uganda, no UN troops have directly taken part in the offensive, but MONUSCO has provided government forces with intelligence, reconnaissance and logistical help.
After the fall of the rebel headquarters at Bunagana, President Joseph Kabila on Wednesday again urged the M23 fighters to "demobilise voluntarily", warning that his men would otherwise "make them do so by force".
Kabila said that "political and diplomatic solutions" remained on the negotiating table in Uganda`s capital Kampala, where the rival sides have held stop-start talks since December and their representatives expressed guarded optimism.
"The negotiations are making progress," M23`s deputy delegation chief Roger Lumbala said at midday on Thursday. "Maybe today, they will have finished and we can put an accord on the table to sign it."
Russ Feingold, the US special envoy for the Great Lakes region, said he expected that the talks in Kampala would lead within days to an agreement in which M23 rebels would disband.
Feingold, who will travel Sunday to South Africa for regional meetings, noted however that there were still "40 to 45 armed groups in eastern Congo."
"I think we need actual mediated talks, peace talks -- a semi-permanent mechanism," said the former US senator in Washington.
Violence also broke early Thursday in Lubumbashi, the country`s second largest city, when members of the armed group Bakata Katanga, seeking independence for Katanga province, attacked the home of the military police chief, killing one soldier, an official source who requested anonymity told a news agency.
Kinshasa and the United Nations charge that M23 is backed by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, an allegation the two countries strongly refute.
At their strongest in November last year, M23 marched into Goma, a mining hub city of one million people, and took control for 10 days, before regional leaders persuaded them into fresh peace talks.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- Mumbai: One injured in shootout at Film City
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- Delhi: Car catches fire after crash, one dead
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns movie review: Brilliant execution, superb performance!
- Manohar Parrikar meets troops at Siachen base camp
- Wbbse.org 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th, WB MP Results 2015 to be announced today shortly
- Businessman shot next to Amitabh Bachchan's shooting location in Mumbai Film City
- West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha (MP) Results 2015 to be announced today at 10 AM
- PM Narendra Modi graces Digvijay Singh's son wedding reception
- Rahul Gandhi to pressurise govt to act on one-rank-one-pension issue
- Rajasthan Board RBSE 12th Inter Results 2015: BSER Ajmer (rajeduboard.nic.in & rajresults.nic.in) Senior Secondary Class 12th Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared today at 2 PM
- RBSE 12th Results 2015 (rajeduboard.nic.in & rajresults.nic.in): Rajasthan Board BSER Ajmer Senior Secondary Class 12th XII Intermediate Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared today on May 22
- After land bill, net neutrality, Rahul Gandhi to fight for ex-servicemen now