DR Congo

DR Congo: North Kivu - New fighting, rebels seize military base

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Thousands of people are fleeing from the areas of Tongo, Kalengera, Kabiza and Rumangabo, in the North Kivu province (east Democratic Republic of Congo), where new fighting broke out Friday between the Congolese military and rebels of the renegade pro-Rwandan general Laurent Nkunda. According to local sources, fighting is still underway in some areas north of Goma, provincial capital of Kivu. Shots were also fired at a group of peacekeepers of the United Nations mission in DR-Congo (MONUC) who were protecting the fleeing civilians. In a statement issued today in Kinshasa, the new Interior minister Celestin Mbuyu confirmed that the rebels of Nkunda's National Congress for the defence of the People (CNDP) yesterday seized the military base of Rumangabo (50km north-east of Goma). As in the past weeks, when the CNDP overran the Rumangabo base (a key army camp in the east) the first time, Kinshasa denounced the involvement of foreign soldiers. In fact, according to the minister, "two foreign battalions" participated in the fighting yesterday in Rumangabo. Though not specifying the nationality of the foreign soldiers, the accusation was addressed at the Rwandan army that has always been a close ally of Nkunda. Kinshasa defined the attacks of the past days as a "blatant violation of the accords signed in Goma and Amani peace process", referring to the agreement signed in January of this year between all the armed groups active in Kivu to restore peace in the region and that foresaw, in addition to a truce, the progressive dismantling of the armed formations. Reports arrived yesterday also of an attack by Nkunda's rebels on the headquarters office of the Virunga National Park (the oldest in Africa), forcing 50 game warden to flee the area. In many years of conflict, the park headquarter was never targeted by the many armed movements present in the area, including the CNDP that has its main posts in the park.