Thursday, November 22, 2012

M23 Rebels Say They Have Captured Another Congolese City

M23 rebels capture another city in eastern DR Congo

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:23AM GMT

Congolese rebels have taken control of the town of Sake in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a day after capturing the city of Goma on the Rwandan border.

"We are not going to stop at Goma, we will go as far as Bukavu, Kisangani and Kinshasa," the spokesman for the March 23 movement (M23), Vianney Kazarama, said on Wednesday.

M23 rebels, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, overran the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday with no resistance from UN and government troops.

"The journey to liberate Congo has started now," said Kazarama, calling on Congolese President Joseph Kabila to step down.

Earlier in the day, Kabila held talks with his Ugandan and Rwandan counterparts in the Ugandan capital Kampala, calling on the rebels to withdraw from Goma immediately.

On Tuesday, the United States urged Rwanda to encourage M23 rebels to pull out of the city.

"We condemn the ongoing violent assault of M23 and the fact that it's now taken Goma in violation of the sovereignty of the DRC," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April in protest over alleged mistreatment in the FARDC. They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.

The mutiny is being led by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on a charge of recruiting child soldiers.

Since early May, over 750,000 people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled inside Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.5 million people dead.

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