DR Congo army says rebel group ‘annihilated’ in restive east

This photo taken on July 8, 2012, shows Col. Sultani Makenga (R), head of the rebel M23 group, followed by soldiers and walking in Bunagana, a town near the Ugandan border. The United States ordered sanctions on Sultani Makenga, the head of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on November 13, 2012, for his role in atrocities in the country. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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DR Congo army says rebel group ‘annihilated’ in restive east

BUKAVU, DR Congo: DR Congo’s army claimed Friday to have “annihilated” a rebel group in the country’s chronically troubled east, killing at least 48 insurgents, capturing 150 others and winning back key territory.
The offensive against forces loyal to William Amuri Yakutumba, a deserter fighting President Joseph Kabila, saw thousands of Congolese crossing Lake Tanganyika into Burundi as clashes raged between government forces and Yakutumba rebels in the eastern province of South Kivu.
“The operation was a success, the rebels have been annihilated. There is no more fighting and we are in the midst of cleaning up operations,” said army spokesman Major Louis-Claude Tshiwanga.
He said since the launch of the operation on January 21, “48 Yakutumba have been killed and 150 captured.”
The army paraded the captured rebels as well as cannons and machine guns seized during a press conference on Thursday in the town of Uvira.
The Yakutumba attacked Uvira at the end of September in a naval operation before being pushed back from the area by MONUSCO, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The army spokesman said people were slowly returning to the town.
Security sources said the rebel chief had not been captured but could have been wounded in fighting last week.
But the UN radio Okapi, citing General Philomen Yav who was in charge of the offensive, said 83 rebels and six government soldiers had died in the fighting.
“Almost all the territory under the control of the Yakutumba has been recovered,” the radio said.
The DR Congo government has announced it is waging “war” against two militias in the east — the Yakutumba and the Ugandan Islamist rebels of the Allied Democratic Force (ADF).
The Congolese Yakutumba are in South Kivu while the ADF are active in North Kivu.
Both regions border Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Rival militia groups have long held sway over large areas in the two provinces, often competing for their rich mineral resources.


US envoy in Russia skips key event

Jon Huntsman Jr. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2018
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US envoy in Russia skips key event

  • Vekselberg predicted Washington and Moscow would get past their crisis in relations eventually
  • Russian denies any interference and the Trump White House denies collusion with Moscow

MOSCOW: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. stayed away from an event on Friday that would have required him to be in the same room as Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian metals tycoon subject to US sanctions.
Huntsman had initially been scheduled to be part of a panel discussion on US-Russian business ties as part of the St. Petersburg investment forum, a Kremlin-backed annual showcase for the Russian economy.
Vekselberg was on the panel of speakers at the session on Friday along with US and Russian business executives, but the ambassador was not there.
Asked why he was absent, the US Embassy in Moscow referred questions to the State Department in Washington. It did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. Reuters
One of the panelists, Russian foods tycoon David Yakobashvili, said of Huntsman: “Unfortunately he is not here, but I am sure he is here in spirit.” Reuters