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Rebels seize key jap city in Democratic Republic of Congo

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The M23 insurgent group has captured Kitshanga, a stratregic city within the jap Democratic Republic of Congo from authorities troops, in its newest seizure of territory in North Kivu province.

Lots of of civilians have fled their houses.

The rebels took the city on Thursday night, after capturing a number of villages on the highway that hyperlinks it to the provincial capital Goma. 

Kitshanga sits on the final open route between North Kivu’s principal financial hubs of Goma and Butembo. The others had been minimize off because of the preventing. 

“We tactically withdrew outdoors the town, with the intention to appeal to these genocidaires in depth and to keep away from the worst for our populations of Kitshanga”, lieutenant-colonel Guillaume Ndjike, spokesman of the army governor of North Kivu instructed AFP. “We’re doing every thing we will to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

“We’re with rebels right here within the metropolis,” stated a Kitshanga resident interviewed from Goma. “The M23 controls all of Kitshanga and this morning the rebels are advancing in the direction of Mweso.”

Kinshasa for months has accused neighbouring Rwanda of supporting the M23 group — whose origins lie within the area’s ethnic preventing — and highly effective voices within the West have brazenly agreed. Rwanda denies backing the group, which is among the dozens working within the mineral-rich east.

At a Nov. 23 summit in Angola, which included Congo’s president and Rwanda’s overseas minister, regional leaders known as for a cease-fire in jap Congo to be adopted by a withdrawal of rebels from main cities beneath M23 management.

The group stated it will go away a number of the occupied territories earlier than Jan. 15, however some areas stay beneath its management and it is looking for to seize others from authorities forces. M23 has been accused by the United Nations and rights teams of atrocities in opposition to civilians.

A lot of Kitshanga’s inhabitants fled Thursday’s violence.

“We’ve got simply been via the warfare in Kitshanga, we noticed M23 killing folks, we had been afraid, that’s why we fled so we wouldn’t die too,” stated Angelique Mukeshimana. The mom of 4 went to a makeshift displacement website on the outskirts of Goma, some 150 kilometres away, leaving all her belongings behind.

The preventing comes days earlier than Pope Francis is due in Congo’s capital Kinshasa for a three-day go to. The journey was initially supposed to incorporate a cease within the east, nevertheless, the Vatican scrapped that amid the rising violence.

M23′s political spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, in a press release on Thursday accused authorities troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and stated the insurgent group was “obliged to intervene and cease one other genocide.”

A spokesperson for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo stated greater than 500 civilians have taken refuge in and across the U.N. peacekeeping base in Kitchanga, the place they have been given tents, meals, water and first assist.

“The M23 should stop all hostilities and withdraw from the occupied areas,” Ndeye Khady Lo stated.

Analysts say the insurgent group’s drive to develop has devastating penalties for civilians.

“If reviews that the group has taken management of Kitshanga … are true, that is one more indication of the group’s ongoing territorial ambitions and obvious unwillingness to withdraw,” stated Daniel Levine-Spound, a researcher on the Heart for Civilians in Battle.

“The group’s continued westward enlargement additionally raises significant fears that M23 may search to completely encircle Goma. Sustained worldwide strain, together with on M23’s backers, will probably be essential in halting the group’s advance,” he stated.

Largely comprised of Congolese ethnic Tutsis, M23 rose to prominence 10 years in the past when it seized Goma on the border with Rwanda. It is a part of an extended line of insurgent teams linked with Rwanda because the Nineties when the nation sought out ethnic Hutu militias, who had fled to Congo after killing Rwandan Tutsis through the genocide.