DR Congo rebels enter Goma



Phil Moore | AFP

Published — Tuesday 20 November 2012

Last update 20 November 2012 6:41 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

GOMA, DR Congo: Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday marched into the main city of Goma in the mineral-rich east of the country, as President Joseph Kabila urged people to resist the advance.
A column of rebel fighters entered the city from the main airport road, sweeping past government troops, and moved toward the center, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
“DR Congo is today confronted with a difficult situation,” Kabila said on national television. “When a war is imposed, one has an obligation to resist. I ask that the entire population defend our sovereignty.”
The advance marks an escalation in the fighting, which erupted last week after a four-month lull and which has raised fears of a wider conflict engulfing the volatile region.
A UN official had earlier told AFP that the rebels had seized control of the airport, but another official later said that the situation there was not clear.
Loud explosions shook the area and there were reports of looting in Goma, the regional capital of 300,000 right on the border with Rwanda that is also sheltering tens of thousands of refugees who have fled the clashes.
The international community has raised alarm about the fighting, which erupted last Thursday with advances by the M23 rebels, former soldiers who mutinied in April.
The UN accuses neighboring Rwanda and Uganda of backing the rebels, charges both countries deny.
Washington has warned the fighting was “an extremely dangerous and worrying situation” and the EU, Britain and France have also raised alarm.
The latest round of fighting erupted last week after the US and the UN slapped sanctions on the leader of the M23, Sultani Makenga.
Makenga is accused of atrocities including masterminding killings, rapes, abductions and recruiting child soldiers.
The rebels have said they plan to fight the DR Congo government “until it falls.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of Congolese students staged demonstrations in the northeastern town of Kisangi and in Kinshasa.
In Kisangi the students ransacked the offices of the country’s ruling party and shouted anti-Kabila slogans while in Kinshasa they put up banners reading “no to war.”
The UN has some 1,500 “quick reaction” peacekeepers in Goma, part of some 6,700 troops in North Kivu province, backing government forces against the rebels.
Aid agencies have evacuated staff from the city and the UN had planned to remove non-essential personnel on Tuesday.
On Monday Kinshasa rejected the rebels’ ultimatum for direct talks within 24 hours, calling it “irrational rantings.”
“We prefer to negotiate with Rwanda, the real aggressor,” government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.
Rwanda late Monday had accused government troops of deliberately bombing its territory.
The fighting is the most serious since July, when UN helicopters last went into action against the M23.
The M23 rebels are former soldiers who mutinied in April after the failure of a 2009 peace deal that integrated them into the regular army.
The rebels are mainly Tutsis, the minority ethnic group of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the target of the 1994 genocide in that country that claimed at least 800,000 lives.
Many members of the Hutu militias who perpetrated the genocide fled across into DR Congo and used Hutu refugee camps as bases for incursions against Rwanda, further destabilizing the region.
The mineral-rich east has long been a powderkeg, the launchpad of rebellions dating back to 1996, with Rwanda and Uganda both playing active or behind-the-scenes roles in much of the warfare.
Two wars that shook the whole of DR Congo between 1996 and 1997 and then again from 1998 to 2002 both began in the Kivu region.
Since 1998 more than three million people are estimated to have died from combat, disease and hunger and 1.6 million have been left homeless.
The former Belgian colony, known as Zaire under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who was toppled in 1997, remains one of the world’s least developed countries despite a wealth of cobalt, copper, diamonds and gold.
In peaceful times, Goma is the starting point for tourists wishing to see endangered mountain gorillas in nearby Virunga National Park.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

ALKHOBAR: A power failure at the King Fahd Causeway on Wednesday night resulted in a massive traffic congestion, even as officials failed to explain the cause of the snag, local media reported.A power outage for 74 minutes on the link between the Kin...
JEDDAH: A female Saudi lawyer was able to get a stay order on a ruling by the general court in Jeddah that awarded custody of a two-year-old girl to her father. She successfully argued to get the court order reversed that gave custody back to the mot...
JEDDAH: The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) said that combating harassment cases is part of its responsibility to promote Islamic values and morals in society.“Those harassing women will be brought to book,” s...
RIYADH: A thick layer of sand covered the city’s skyline on Saturday with a heavy blanket of dust caused by strong winds hampering visibility and creating traffic snarls on busy roads.The traffic department advised motorists to drive slowly and exerc...
JEDDAH: More than 26 million Umrah pilgrims and worshippers visited the Grand Mosque during the month of Ramadan and in the first few days after Eid Al-Fitr, thanks to a smooth transport arrangement under the guidance of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-...
AL-AHSA: An outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD) has been discovered in cattle in Al-Ahsa which is an area with many cows. All necessary measures have been taken to protect the livestock, said Mahmoud Al-Shuaibi of the Agriculture Department in Al-Ah...
RIYADH: An architectural masterpiece — the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center (KAHC) — in Riyadh is a huge complex dedicated solely to collecting, preserving, promoting and showcasing the history and heritage of Saudi Arabia. The KAHC is a three milli...
RIYADH: The Saudi Blind Society (Kafif) has made all preparations for the three-day workshop for the blind to be held here next week and attended by delegates from various Asian countries.Mohammed bin Suleiman Al-Shuwaiman, Kafif director general, th...
JEDDAH: The number of Saudis who took early retirement schemes last year stood at 38,647, the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has said. The Eastern Provinces got the lion's share of disbursements for retirees, amounting to SR3.8 bill...
JEDDAH: Meat and poultry topped the list of food items seized by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) at the border crossings for violating the health standards in the last two months.Approximately 267,137 kg of unfit meat and poultry were reject...
JEDDAH: Many sponsors and workers of small companies are struggling to get a comparatively cheaper health cover for renewal of iqama (residential permit) as the insurance companies have stopped issuing the same.The passport department has made it com...
RIYADH: Police have detained 11 Indonesian nationals, who arrived in the holy city of Makkah for Umrah a few days back.The Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry is working closely with the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah to assist the group of citizen...
JEDDAH: The National Committee for Bakeries at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) said this Haj season would see no shortage in supplies of bakery items.The committee said there was need to increase operational labor by about 20 percent.It confirmed...
LONDON: Members of Osama Bin Laden’s family were among four people who died when a private jet crashed in Britain, Saudi Arabia’s embassy in London said on Saturday.The Saudi-registered plane plowed into a car auction site and burst into flames in so...
JEDDAH: Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al Hamzi, director general of prisons, has sacked Brig. Ahmad Al Shahrani, director of Jeddah prisons, after the case of a video clip about prisoners taking heroin went viral, according to local media.Quoting informed source...

Stay Connected

Facebook