Coming up

Don't miss




Royal decree on low-cut tops

Read more


Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin? (part 2)

Read more


Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin?

Read more


Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more


José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more


NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more


Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more


Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more


USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

  • Russia orders military drills as Ukraine moves on separatists

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • A radio station preaching peace and love in CAR

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Palestinian unity deal stirs anger in Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more


DR Congo rebels seize strategic town of Rutshuru


Video by Oliver FARRY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-09

Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo seized the town of Rutshuru from the army Sunday, two days after taking a key mineral transit town. The rebels’ gains in the volatile North Kivu province risk dragging the country back into war.

REUTERS - Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo seized a second town from fleeing government forces on Sunday, witnesses and a rebel spokesman said, a further embarrassment for the U.N.-backed army after the insurgents took a mineral transit town.

The capture of the town of Rutshuru on Sunday opens the way for a possible rebel advance on Goma, the provincial capital about 70 km (43 miles) to the south.

On Friday, the rebels seized Bunagana, an important mineral transit town, driving about 600 Congolese soldiers across the border into Uganda.

The gains for the M23 rebel movement in volatile, mineral-rich North Kivu province risks dragging the vast, loosely governed central African state back into war.

They could also damage fragile relations with neighbouring Rwanda, which has repeatedly denied allegations that the rebels are receiving support from Kigali military officials.

The M23 insurgents, mostly Congolese Tutsis, many of them army mutineers, take their name from a March 2009 peace deal that ended a previous rebellion in North Kivu, but which the rebels say has been broken.

Like the larger eastern rebellion from 2004 to 2009, the current mutiny has its roots in ethnic and political wounds dating back to Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Later invasions of Congo by Rwandan forces and Kigali's backing of Congolese rebels fuelled two successive wars that killed several million people.

"We took control of the town of Rutshuru before noon and sent the (Congolese army) fleeing," Colonel Vianney Kazarama of the M23 rebel movement told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

"The rebellion is gaining momentum"

A German newspaper reporter and a local resident said they saw rebel fighters enter the town unopposed.

"I'm in Rutshuru. The FARDC (Congolese army) left this morning. M23 just took over, but there was no fighting," Simone Schlindwein, Great Lakes correspondent for Tageszeitung newspaper, said.

Rutshuru resident Lucien Amoli said he saw between 200 and 300 rebel soldiers occupying the town centre in the early afternoon.

"The loyalist soldiers were shooting in the air when they left and the rebels were also shooting in the air when they entered the town," he said. "That went on for about 30 minutes, now everything is calm but we don't know for how long."

Congolese military and government officials were not immediately available to comment.

UN gunships attack

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, told Reuters that U.N. helicopter gunships bombarded rebel positions on Sunday.

"We've sent our attack helicopters to Rubare and Runyoni. We have already hit them there," spokesman Alex Essome said.

Another U.N. source said that besides Rutshuru and Rubare, another location, Ntamugenga, had also fallen to the M23 rebels, who had halted for the moment.

The source, who asked not to be named, said U.N. peacekeepers were holding small operating bases at Kiwanja and Katale near Rutshuru and MONUSCO was looking to use its reserves, including special forces, to ensure the protection of Goma to the south.

Speaking to Reuters TV at a base near Bunagana close to the Ugandan border, M23 commander Colonel Sultani Makenga said Congolese President Joseph Kabila's government held the key to resolving the conflict.

"If they want us to talk, we shall talk. If they want us to fight, we shall fight on. Every Congolese wants a solution to this problem, they are with us so we shall fight until the government sees the need to negotiate," Makenga said, guarded by fighters carrying machine guns and ammunition belts.

Kinshasa has yet to respond to the latest rebel successes.

In a memo seen by Reuters on Sunday, the defence ministry called for renewed operations to arrest senior M23 figures including Makenga and General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

Jason Stearns, an independent Congo analyst and author, said the rebel advance "represents a big blow to the Congolese army and the United Nations peacekeeping mission."

"It will strengthen the M23's hand in negotiations, if those happen any time soon," he said.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday condemned attacks by M23 fighters on peacekeepers in the area after an Indian soldier was killed in the attack on Bunagana.

The rebels had taken Rutshuru before, in 2008, when they were known as the CNDP. They were accused then by rights groups of massacring around 150 people in the adjoining town of Kiwanja.

Rutshuru's capture in 2008 paved the way for an advance on Goma that eventually forced the government in Kinshasa to negotiate a deal that saw the eastern rebels integrated into the national army.

They abandoned the army's ranks earlier this year, saying the government had not respected the agreement.

A report by U.N. investigators last month provided the strongest evidence yet that officials in the Rwandan government were providing military and logistical support to armed groups in Congo. Kigali strongly denies backing the rebels.

Date created : 2012-07-09


    DRC troops, civilians fleeing to Uganda after rebel clashes

    Read more


    Congo forces committed ‘human rights violations’ during election, says UN

    Read more