Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Africa

DR Congo, UN troops launch offensive against Rwandan rebels

Latest update : 2014-03-13

Government forces backed by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have begun attacking Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the eastern border region, UN and Congolese officials say.

Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have been involved in nearly two decades of regional conflict, which spilled into eastern Congo after neighbouring Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The United Nations force, known as MONUSCO, has a robust mandate to eradicate Congo’s armed groups. UN troops and government forces won a rare victory last year against M23, a Congolese Tutsi rebel force that had been the FDLR’s principal enemy.

Colonel Felix Basse, military spokesman for the UN's Congo mission, said UN troops had deployed in Virunga National Park in North Kivu province and were backing a Congolese offensive against the FDLR.

“Since Sunday, we have deployed our men and we have had contact with FDLR in that zone,” Basse told a news conference on Wednesday in North Kivu’s provincial capital, Goma. He said two rebels had been killed in the fighting so far.

Basse said the 3,000-strong UN intervention brigade – made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi – was taking part in the joint offensive.

“These operations will continue. We have a mandate to protect the population and restore the authority of the state,” he said.

The FDLR is made up, in part, of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu militiamen who fled to Congo after taking part in the killing of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus 20 years ago.

Rights groups accuse them of taking part in civilian killings and mass rapes.

FDLR refuse to disarm

While their numbers have dwindled to a few thousand militants in recent years, previous attempts to disarm the rebels have failed. They are considered one of the principal obstacles to establishing a durable peace in the mineral-rich region.

“So far the FDLR have refused to disarm, which is why we have attacked," Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said Wednesday. "We will not stop until they lay down their arms.”

“We alone, or with the support of our partners in MONUSCO, must put an end to this threat against our populations,” he said.

Rwanda invaded Congo twice in the late 1990s to try to wipe out Hutu fighters. The offensives helped ignite two regional wars and countless smaller conflicts that killed millions of people.

Rwanda has since been accused of backing armed groups in eastern Congo, most recently by a panel of UN experts who say Rwanda armed and organised M23.

Rwanda denies the accusation and says Congo’s army is collaborating with the FDLR.

At the height of its 20-month-long rebellion, M23 took control of Goma – eastern Congo’s largest city – in the most serious threat to President Joseph Kabila’s regime to date.

M23 threatened last August to retake Goma if Kinshasa reneged on its pledge to start direct talks.

A UN report in January said there were credible reports that the M23 continues to recruit fighters in Rwanda.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2014-03-13

  • DR CONGO

    DR Congo signs peace deal with M23 rebels

    Read more

  • DR CONGO

    Will the end of M23 rebels bring peace to DR Congo?

    Read more

  • USA - RWANDA

    US urges Rwanda to end support for DR Congo rebels

    Read more

COMMENT(S)