GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo Dec 1 Trucks
carrying rebel fighters singing and brandishing their weapons
pulled out of Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern city of
Goma on Saturday under a withdrawal deal brokered by regional
Leaders of the Tutsi-led M23 rebel movement had agreed to
quit Goma by Saturday. They had seized the city on Lake Kivu on
the border with Rwanda on Nov. 20, after they routed government
troops backed by United Nations peacekeepers.
"The M23 is leaving Goma," the group's deputy spokesman
Amani Kabasha told Reuters.
In the city centre, blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeepers from
Uruguay in white armoured vehicles watched as camouflage-clad
M23 fighters scrambled onto the back of flatbed trucks with
battered suitcases and other belongings before driving off.
Several of the departing trucks were loaded with crates of
ammunition including mortar shells.
A crowd of around 200 local residents gathered under a hot
tropical sun to watch the rebels go.
A full rebel withdrawal from lakeside Goma, which lies in
sight of the towering Mount Nyiragongo volcano, would signal
some progress in international efforts to halt the
eight-month-old insurgency in eastern Democratic Republic of
On Friday, the agreed withdrawal appeared to run into
problems, including a dispute over abandoned army supplies the
insurgents wanted to take with them.
Goma is an important hub in Congo's eastern borderlands
which have suffered years of recurring conflict stoked by
long-standing ethnic and political enmities and fighting over
the region's rich resources of gold, tin, tungsten and coltan.
The latter is a precious metal used to make mobile phones.