U.N. Security Council condemns eastern Congo rebel attacks

UNITED NATIONS Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:44pm EDT

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council condemned on Monday attacks by armed rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and demanded an end to all outside support for multiple insurgencies plaguing the provinces on the Congolese border with Rwanda.

M23 rebel advances earlier this month sent the Congolese government army fleeing in droves, displaced thousands of civilians, killed an Indian U.N. peacekeeper and stoked tensions between Congo and Rwanda. Congo accused the Rwandan army of directly equipping and supporting the M23 rebellion.

Rwanda's government strenuously denied the accusations despite evidence provided by U.N. experts supporting allegations that high-level military officials in Kigali were supporting and supplying the rebellion in eastern Congo.

In a statement, the 15-member Security Council condemned "all outside support to all armed groups in the DRC and ... demand that all forms of support to them cease immediately."

"They further call upon all countries in the region to cooperate actively with the Congolese authorities in demobilizing the M23," the council said.

It also noted "with interest" a regional pact to eliminate armed rebels in eastern Congo, which was signed by the presidents of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and other leaders from the Great Lakes region on Sunday.

The M23 rebellion takes its name from a 2009 peace accord the rebels say was violated by Kinshasa.

It has been swelled by hundreds of defectors from the Congolese army who walked out into the bush in support of fugitive Congolese General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

The Security Council demanded that all armed groups "cease immediately any further advances and all forms of violence" and urged that the commanders of M23, including Ntaganda, be apprehended and brought to justice.

The council also expressed deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation, "the increasing number of displaced persons and refugees and reports of both sexual violence and the use of child soldiers."

The U.N. has a peacekeeping mission of more than 17,000 in the Congo but has often been hard pressed to halt fighting and protect civilians in the vast, unruly central African state which produces gold, copper, tin, diamonds and other minerals.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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