It is not logically sound or feasible that a foreign organized Rebel Group take position inside a Soverign State and threaten to attack and retailiate after being asked to vacate politely. It is unacceptable.
The conspiracy involving an illegal, unconstitutional occupation, invasion and attack of a Sovereign DR Congo territory by Rwandas organized Rebel Group holed inside Congo is a serious crime that violates and abuses all norms of International Treaty.
M23 must be wiped out and be removed completely out of Congo and that they be convicted at the ICC Hague and charged as deemed necessary.
The fighting began just before 8 a.m. Wednesday in the hills of the Kibati area, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of the provincial capital of Goma, according to both a government and a U.N. spokesman. The rebels confirmed that they had been attacked by ground troops as well as from the air.
"There was a big offensive this morning. The government's army, helped by the United Nations attacked our positions near Goma with aircrafts, with combat tanks and with infantry," said the president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa, who spoke by telephone.
He said the U.N.'s intervention brigade was on the frontline of the fighting: "It was the U.N. that was shooting directly at us, from their helicopters. It's the Tanzanian and South African (United Nations) troops that are on the frontline. It's them that we see first," he said.
The U.N.'s intervention brigade was created as a result of intense international pressure after the rebels briefly held Goma late last year, and U.N. peacekeeping forces stood by because they were only authorized to protect civilians. The U.N. Security Council approved the creation of the intervention brigade in March, giving the troops an expanded mandate allowing them to fight the M23 rebels.
In the weeks since the brigade has been deployed in eastern Congo, officials have given mixed messages about its role in the conflict, always stressing that the brigade was fighting "alongside" or "behind" Congolese army troops.
On Wednesday, officials reiterated that they were playing a support role. "The main engagement is by the (Congolese) forces," said Siphiwe Dlamini, a spokesman for the South African military, which contributed South African troops to the brigade. "We are retaliating and going on the offensive."
Lt. Col. Felix Basse, the military spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, also said that U.N. forces were taking part in the fighting alongside the Congolese army Wednesday.
"MONUSCO has enlisted all of its attack helicopters and its artillery ... to push back the M23 offensive that is under way right now on the hills of Kibati," he told journalists in the capital of Kinshasa.
The U.N. mission has been utilizing its attack helicopters since Aug. 22 in an effort to back the ground forces.
The M23 fighters launched their rebellion last year and peace talks with the Congolese government have repeatedly stalled.
Martin Kobler, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said the U.N. forces were doing their best to protect the city of Goma from rebel attacks.
"We can't guarantee the security of Goma's population but we can do all we can to improve security and prevent shells and other threats," he said.
The intervention brigade — consisting of Tanzanian, South African and Malawian soldiers — reinforces the 17,000 U.N. blue helmeted peacekeepers already in Congo. The peacekeepers can only protect civilians. The new intervention brigade, however, has a stronger mandate and is authorized to battle the rebel forces operating in mineral-rich eastern Congo.
The U.N. intervention brigade now in place promises to give the Congolese troops greater backing in their efforts to eliminate the rebel threat, though the new intervention brigade also stands to make U.N. forces more vulnerable to attack when they are seen as being on the offensive rather than a neutral force simply protecting civilians.
Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal and Rodney Muhumuza in Johannesburg also contributed to this report.
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - A U.N. peacekeeper from Tanzania was killed and three others were wounded on Wednesday in an operation with the Congolese army to drive back M23 rebels from the city of Goma in eastern Congo, a U.N spokesman said.
Democratic Republic of Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission used helicopters, artillery and ground troops in support of government forces that launched the assault on rebel positions north of Goma, a city of 1 million people on the Rwandan border.
A 3,000-strong U.N. intervention brigade, with a tough new mandate to protect civilians and neutralise armed groups in the mineral-rich central African nation, sprang into action last week after the United Nations accused the rebels of shelling the city.
The M23 rebels, aware that their presence within striking distance of Goma is key to their leverage in stalled peace talks, have fiercely resisted Congolese army efforts to push them back.
Wednesday's fighting focused on the high ground around the village of Kibati, 11 km (7 miles) north of Goma.
"The M23 has been using these positions to shell populated areas. The objective of the operation is therefore to remove the threat against Goma," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, later said that the dead peacekeeper was a Tanzanian.
A U.N. official in Goma said Indian peacekeepers and members of the intervention brigade - composed of Tanzanian, South African and Malawian troops - had taken part in the fighting.
South African military spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said two of the wounded soldiers were South African.
The nationality of the third person wounded in the attack was not yet known.
A Congolese officer at the frontline said government troops had by early evening seized strategic hills in Kibati and were fending off attempts to retake them.
MONUSCO's top military official said that at least one, and possibly two shells fell inside Goma late on Wednesday.
Residents of the city's Mabanga Nord neighbourhood told a Reuters witness that a 14-year-old boy was killed and others injured in one of the blasts.
Mortar bombs and rockets have struck both sides of Congo's border with Rwanda in the past week, raising tensions between two neighbours which have fought two wars since the 1990s.
Kigali has accused Congo's army of firing on its territory, and Rwandan army spokesman Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita said mortar bombs had rained down on Rwanda "the whole day".
At least seven civilians were killed by shells that landed in Goma on Thursday and Saturday, humanitarian agencies and witnesses said.
Congo has blamed M23 for firing into Rwanda to try to draw in Kigali, which U.N. investigators accused of supporting the 18-month rebellion - a charge Rwanda has denied.
M23 humiliated Congo's army and the 17,000-strong MONUSCO force by briefly occupying Goma in November, forcing the government to accept peace talks.
The new U.N. intervention brigade was created in March, marking an aggressive step-up for peacekeeping operations in the region, which for years have been criticised for inaction.
Bolstered by the new brigade, Congolese President Joseph Kabila has effectively ditched the peace talks in the Ugandan capital Kampala, analysts say.
But MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler said protecting eastern Congo's largest city was the government's responsibility.
"The U.N. cannot guarantee the security of Goma. It's our partners the (Congolese army) who will do that," he said.
Rebel M23 condemns bombardments by DR Congo army
DRC and Rwanda Agree to Handle M23 Rebels in Kivu
Friday, August 30, 2013.
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday phoned both Paul Kagame and DRC President Joseph Kabila to discuss the on going battle in the mineral-rich eastern Congo province of North Kivu....” A day after the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo leaders to end the on going war in Eastern DRC ,the two countries have agreed on plans to get rid on armed rebels in the region. The document was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa by nearly a dozen regional states, who met on the sidelines of an African Union summit. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday phoned both Paul Kagame and DRC President Joseph Kabila to discuss the on going battle in the mineral-rich eastern Congo province of North Kivu. Ban Ki-moon urged the two presidents to do everything possible to do everything possible to dissuade the M23 from making further advances and to cease fighting immediately. M23 rebels were yesterday reported to be 40km (25 miles) from Goma city, near the Rwandan border.The Congolese government and the UN say Rwanda is backing the rebels.DRC says Rwanda wants to keep it unstable so that it can exploit its rich mineral wealth. The advance of the rebels to Goma city have been countered by UN peacekeepers. UN tanks have been stationed around 25km north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, on a road linking the city to Rutshuru which the rebels seized briefly at the weekend.
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Mortar Shells From Rwanda Kill Civilians in Eastern Congo
Congo News Agency - August 23, 2013
One woman and her three children were killed when mortar shells, which Mr. Mende said came from Rwanda, hit civilian neighborhoods in the eastern Congo city.
“Eleven shells fell early Thursday afternoon in two different neighborhoods in the city of Goma, in particular in the neighborhoods of Katindo Gauche, Murara, Office and in the suburbs of Munigi,” Mr. Mende said.
Mr. Mende said that based on early findings by experts, “the greatest number of mortar shells came from the territory of the Republic of Rwanda, specifically the areas of Mukamira and Rugero on the border district of Rubavu and the locality of Mahuku.” He added that the Congolese government was asking for an explanation from the Rwandan government.
“These heinous attacks deliberately targeted the civilian population of Goma, as actual military clashes between the [Congolese army] and the coalition called M23 took place more than 15 kms from the capital of North Kivu. These are war crimes under international law. The Congolese government calls on the UN and the ICC to treat them as such,” Mr. Mende said.
Mr. Mende said that 17 rebels, including two of their commanders, were killed in a counter-offensive launched by the Congolese army and the new UN Intervention Brigade.
The “valiant FARDC were also able to destroy the ammunition depot of the M23 in Kibumba that burned throughout the day yesterday, which gives an idea of the volume of supplies that have been sent from Rwanda to help this negative force.”
31 July 2013 Last updated at 12:55 ET
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DR Congo unrest: Rwanda 'recruiting for M23 rebels'
The four said they were seeking asylum in Uganda after fleeing the fighting.
The Rwandan army dismissed their claim, saying they must have made up their stories to get asylum.
Last week, the US called on Rwanda to stop backing the M23. UN experts and DR Congo officials say Rwanda has been sending troops to support the rebels.
Some 800,000 people have been displaced in resource-rich eastern DR Congo since the M23 launched its rebellion in April 2012.
Like Rwanda's leadership, the group mostly comes from the Tutsi community.
Who are the M23 rebels?
- Named after the 23 March 2009 peace accord which they accuse the government of violating
- This deal saw them join the army before they took up arms once more in April 2012
- Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army
- Mostly from minority Tutsi ethnic group
- Deny being backed by Rwanda and Uganda
- The UN and US imposed a travel ban and asset freeze in December 2012 on the group's leader, Sultani Makenga
- Hit by heavy infighting in February 2013
- Top commander Bosco Ntaganda surrendered to International Criminal Court in March 2013
The UN has given residents of the main city in eastern DR Congo, Goma, until 1400 GMT on Thursday to disarm, warning force will be used if they fail to do so.
A new 3,000-strong UN intervention brigade is in the area to tackle various rebels, including the M23.
The four deserters, who included a man who described himself a captain in the Rwandan army, spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity.
He deserted after seeing many innocent people die, the man said.
He described Rwanda's President Paul Kagame as the commander-in-chief of the M23.
"Whatever he says has to be done," he said.
Mr Kagame's spokeswoman Yolande Makolo dismissed the allegations as nonsense.
"We need to stop the cycle of rumours, propaganda and blame and get on with the business of building enduring peace," she said.
Another deserter, who described himself as a medical student, told the BBC he was "kidnapped" by soldiers in the border town of Gisenyi in August 2012, and taken across the border where he treated more than 300 fellow recruits wounded in fighting.
"They took them to the frontline before finishing their training," he said.
Rwandan military spokesman Joseph Nzabamwita said he could only comment if the BBC divulged the names of their sources, adding the men must have manufactured the stories to claim asylum.
New York-based pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Carina Tarstaskian said HRW had received similar reports to those of the BBC.
M23 deserters told HRW that Rwandan officers provided them with military training in eastern DR Congo, she said.
HRW was also aware of several Rwandan children who were approached by civilians with the promise of jobs in eastern DR Congo, only to be recruited into M23, Ms Tarstaskian said.
29 June 2012 Last updated at 06:21 ET
How DR Congo rebels make their money
It lists bank robberies and extortion rackets taxing charcoal and cows as some of the activities of the insurgents in east of the country.
The recent increase in violence was partly caused by government attempts to end racketeering by parts of the army, including the mining of precious minerals such as tin and gold.
Cynics might say the government army wanted to reassert its own control over these rackets. But in any case it is clear recent events were part of a long-standing struggle by Kinshasa to establish control over the east.
The legal and illegal export of precious minerals from the fabulously rich soils of eastern DR Congo is a multi-million dollar business in itself.
End Quote Campaign group EnoughThe UN experts report should ring alarm bells in Washington, London and other capitals”
On the first occasion, the UN study says, soldiers snatched $1m (£640,000), the currency of choice for well-off Congolese.
The second BIAC raid netted only $50,000.
But there were other heists too - at a well-known Goma hotel, the Stella Matutina, a customs office and several money transfer branches.
More mundane extortion also affects ordinary people every day.
Trucks carrying charcoal for cooking, for example, are "taxed" $50 at illegal roadblocks and even motorcyclists have to pay a sort of licence fee of $2 a week, the report by the UN group of experts published within the last week says.
DR Congo's armed groups
- FARDC: DR Congo's national army
- Monusco: UN peacekeepers
- FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda): Contains some remnants of perpetrators of 1994 genocide in Rwanda
- FNL (National Liberation Forces): Burundian rebels, mainly in South Kivu
- ADF (Allied Democratic Forces): Ugandan-led, based in Rwenzori mountains, North Kivu
- M23: Formed from soldiers who mutinied in April - many once members of the CNDP rebel group. UN says Rwandan-backed with different factions under control of Gen Bosco Ntaganda and Col Sultani Makenga
- FDC (Congo Defence Front): Fought FDLR rebels early this year
- APCLS (Patriotic Alliance for Free and Sovereign Congo): Operates in Masisi area west of Goma
- FRPI (Patriotic Resistance Forces of Ituri): Operates in Ituri Province near Uganda border
- Mai Mai Raia Mutomboki: Has fought both FDLR and FARDC
- Mai Mai Gedeon: Allied to separatists in southern Katanga province
- Mai Mai Yakutumba: Operates on shores of Lake Tanganyika
- Mai Mai Sheka - also known as NDC (Nduma Defence of Congo), led by Gen Sheka Ntaberi
The Congolese government was most concerned by soldiers led by General Bosco Ntaganda aka "The Terminator" and Colonel Sultani Makenga - who were both in theory inside the national army - because it believed they were backed by Rwanda and so threatened Kinshasa's sovereignty over the area.
The army high command signalled that these officers and their allies were to be transferred to other parts of the country.
The idea was to assert central control and break up criminal networks within the army, the UN report says.
But in April of this year, the report says, troops under the shared command of Gen Ntaganda and Col Makenga began deserting and setting up their own fiefdoms north of the volcano range that lies just outside Goma.
The planned redeployment - which threatened the officers' money-making capacity - was one apparent reason for the mutiny.
But the indictment on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of Gen Ntaganda was another.
He reportedly feared any moves against him would increase the possibility of him being arrested and sent to The Hague.
Col Makenga himself told the New Yorker magazine that he was not backed by Rwanda and he blamed the recent fighting on the government army.
He also denied he was allied to Gen Ntaganda.
The UN has accused Rwanda, in some detail, of backing Col Makenga's group.
Its evidence - contained in an annex to the UN group of experts report - has not yet been made public, but was leaked on Wednesday.
Rwanda denies the allegation.
The report reveals that the result of the mutiny was that as government army units redeployed to fight the new rebellion, other armed groups moved in to fill the vacuum created by their departure.
'All hell has broken loose'
There are at least eight main Congolese armed groups operating in eastern DR Congo, in addition to the groups that mutinied this year, and three other armed groups led mainly by foreign forces.
Some of these groups have fancy acronyms indicating that they are "national" or "defence" forces.
But many are in reality closer to being mere brigands and criminals.
As these men with guns move around and establish new fiefdoms or rackets in the wake of the mutiny - in what the UN report calls a "fluid security landscape" - ordinary people suffer.
The US campaign group Enough said "all hell has broken loose" in eastern DR Congo since government forces moved there to try to retake control after a mutiny.
The number of people made homeless by the wars in eastern DR Congo has passed two million for the first time since 2009, the report says.
Those affected are mainly in South Kivu province bordering Burundi and North Kivu province bordering Rwanda.
"The UN experts report should ring alarm bells in Washington, London and other capitals," Enough said.
"The war in eastern [DR] Congo has escalated to where it was four years ago, with spikes in attacks, sexual violence and displacement."