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Small arms fire was heard soon after daybreak north of Goma, but that fighting ended swiftly and within four hours the M23 forces swept into the city unopposed.
The rebels, who Congo's neighbour Rwanda has been forced to deny it is supporting, appear to have no clear aim now that they have control of Goma. It is expected they will demand significant concessions from the government before they agree to withdraw.
There were fears that now that the city has fallen, rebel soldiers, who have spent months in eastern Congo's wild hinterland, will go on a rampage of looting and rape, particularly if the UN continues to appear ineffective. So far, however, they have been well-disciplined.
"They marched right past my house, they were in smart uniforms and looked disciplined, but we know that they can start stealing or getting drunk and then we don't know who
DR Congo says Rwanda forces back rebels
Posted Tuesday, July 16 2013 at 21:20
- The M23 rebels launched a new assault outside the North Kivu provincial capital on Sunday and new battles were reported Tuesday
Rwanda Army Warns DRC
“There was no fighting near the border so these bombings from areas controlled by FARDC were aimed at provoking us to retaliate. They have to stop.”
Nzabamwita made the remarks during the tour of areas in Busasama Sector, Rubavu District that were bombed by militants in the area under the control of DRC troops – FARDC and UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO on July 15.
Defence Attachés from France, Belgium, US and Tanzania Embassies and one diplomat from the German Embassy accredited in Kigali and journalists were taken to a tour of the bombed sites.
“Further facts prove that the two bombs were shelled on Rwanda territory from BM 21 located at Carriere, in Mugunga 12 kms from Goma,” Nzabamwita said.
“The BM 21 is manned by gunners of 41 Commando Bn of Col Didier, Commando Bde commanded by Col Mamadou Ndala. The Commando Bde is collocated with MONUSCO.”
Nzabamwita further noted: “It should be recalled that in November 2012, FARDC fired on Rwanda territory 15 bombs killing innocent civilians and MONUSCO was silent and defending them even when DRC apologized for firing at Rubavu, saying it was undisciplined officers that fired without orders.”
Tensions hit peak levels on Wednesday after MONUSCO “rejected allegations of ‘deliberate bombings’ of Rwanda territory that would have originated from DRC.”
“The gratuitous denial by MONUSCO, without prior investigations constitutes a dangerous pattern. This is not the first time MONUSCO is denying verifiable attacks on Rwanda territory,” said Rwanda in a statement issued Wednesday evening.
The bombing was verified by Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM)
“It is a fact that MONUSCO deploys in Goma areas where the bombs came from. MONUSCO is collocated with FARDC,” the statement added.
Rwanda’s relations with DRC have lately been deteriorating over the armed insurgency in the eastern part of the war-torn country. There are counter accusations between the two countries of backing each other’s rebel groups.
Observers argue that by providing sanctuary and logistics to FDLR, a Rwandan militia that draws its militants and leaders from perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide in which one million people were slaughtered in 1994; Kinshasha is not only stoking tensions but also cultivating a ground for a regional war.
Several UN reports have accused DRC of conniving with FDLR to carry out attacks inside Rwanda, allegations the international body corroborated with unquestionable evidence.
Rwanda denies backing M23 as alleged by UN, saying a war across its border is more of harm than good since it affects its tourism potential. There is general consensus among observers that DRC can only be stable if it extended state authority to the entire country.
The operations of FDLR and Uganda rebel group ADF in Congo have since been described by President Yoweri Museveni as a “terrorism conservation project.” Speaking at a press conference in June, US President Barrack Obama said DRC leader Joseph Kabila should “do more” on extending state authority to eastern Congo considering that the conflict over mineral resources has cost hundreds of lives and pushed thousands of refugees into deplorable conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda.
“President Kabila inside of Congo has to do more and better when it comes to dealing with the DRC’s capacity on security issues and delivery of services,” said Obama. “And that’s very important, because if there’s a continuing vacuum there, then that vacuum sometimes gets filled by actors that don’t have the best interests of Congo at heart,” he added.
U.S. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary, the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, testified about how serious the situation is for residents of eastern Congo since M23 rebels rebelled against the government and took control of the eastern region in April.
"The security and humanitarian situation in the Congo is the most volatile in Africa today," Carson said.
Carson said five million people have died in inter-ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1997. Carson said there is a credible body of evidence from the United Nations and other sources that the Rwandan government is aiding the M23 rebels, and called on Rwanda to cease any such support.
Subcommittee chairman Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said successive U.S. administrations have neglected to take a tough stand on Rwanda, due to U.S. regret about not stopping the genocide there in 1994.
"We must overcome our regret over what happened 18 years ago. As an NGO letter to President Obama points out, the United States is not out of step with our European allies, who have cut aid to Rwanda because of their interference in the DRC," Smith said.
His Republican colleague, Congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, was even more forceful in his criticism, asking Carson how long the Obama administration was going to try to negotiate with the leaders of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda while civilians continue to be killed.
"How many people have to die before you stop the negotiations and get serious about this?," Marino said.
Carson said that the U.S. government has to be patient and to continue to press the involved governments to see reason and to put an end to the violence. He stressed that the United States has taken action.
"We cut off our foreign military financing to the Rwandan government, one of the first such public acts by any government," Carsons said.
Analysts say they fear it will be hard to get a peace deal in talks scheduled between Congolese President Joseph Kabila and the M23 rebels, and that more civilians will die or be displaced.