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Congo army helicopters pound M23 rebels near Goma

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th July 2013 07:30 PM

Congolese government forces supported by helicopters attacked M23 rebel positions near the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday in a third day of heavy fighting that has forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and raised tensions with Rwanda.

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Congolese government forces supported by helicopters attacked M23 rebel positions near the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday in a third day of heavy fighting that has forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and raised tensions with Rwanda.

Congolese government forces supported by helicopters attacked M23 rebel positions near the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday in a third day of heavy fighting that has forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and raised tensions with Rwanda.

The clashes have also focused attention on the role of the United Nations, which is deploying a new force with a mandate to attack rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 3,000-strong Intervention Brigade, made up of South African, Tanzania and Malawian troops, has begun patrols but not yet engaged in combat.

The United Nations has warned it would block any attack on Goma, a city of one million people bordering Rwanda, which was briefly captured by rebels in November.

A Reuters reporter in Mutaho, some 7 km (4 miles) northeast of Goma, saw three army attack helicopters bombard rebel positions in the town of Kibati, 4 km further north of Goma.

"The situation is under control," army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters in Mutaho. "We were attacked on Sunday and our troops are pushing the enemy forces back."

Rebels and government troops traded mortar fire on Monday close to the northern and western outskirts of Goma. The United Nations said that a shell fell on Tuesday 100 metres (yards) from Goma airport, with no victims reported.

"This recurrence of fighting close to inhabited areas poses a serious protection issue for thousands of people and could trigger some drastic humanitarian consequences," said Moustapha Soumare, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Congo.

Millions of people have died from violence, disease and hunger since the 1990s as foreign-backed rebel groups have fought for control of eastern Congo's rich deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and uranium, destabilising the Great Lakes region at the heart of Africa.

Kinshasa repeated claims on Monday that Rwanda was directly backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels. A U.N. report said the group recruits in Rwanda with the aid of sympathetic military officers.

Kigali, which has in the past backed insurgents in Congo, denies any support for M23. It accused Kinshasa and U.N. troops on Monday of "provocative and deliberate" shelling of its territory, though it said no-one was wounded. Reuters

 

Congo army helicopters pound M23 rebels near Goma

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