KINSHASA Nov 16 Democratic Republic of Congo
forces have repulsed two waves of attacks by rebel fighters near
the eastern city of Goma, the army said on Friday, in some of
the worst fighting seen in the central African region for
Both sides gave conflicting casualty figures from the
clashes, which started early on Thursday morning and continued
into Friday near the town of Kibumba, 30 km (18 miles) north of
Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
The area - scarred by nearly two decades of bloodshed - has
been swept by further upheaval since April, when hundreds of
soldiers mutinied against the government and formed the
so-called M23 rebel group.
"They've been attacking our positions again, but we've held
them ... For the moment the situation is calm," General Lucien
Bahuma, military commander for the region, told Reuters.
North Kivu's provincial government claimed dozens of rebel
fighters had been killed but M23 spokesman Vianney Kazarama
denied the report saying rebels had only suffered some injuries
and had, in turn, killed two army officers in the fighting.
Kazarama accused the government of striking first on
Thursday morning and said the group had been defending itself.
He added that the rebels had made significant advances but were
not planning to march on the city of Goma.
"That's not our objective, our objective is that the
government accepts negotiations, we want dialogue," he said.
The uprising has risked destabilising the whole region after
UN experts said in a report that Rwanda was backing the rebels,
claims strongly denied by Kigali.
An expert panel has urged a U.N. Security Council committee
to impose sanctions on Rwanda's defence minister and other
Rwandan officials the panel linked to the insurgency , U.N.
diplomats said on Friday.
More than three quarters of a million people have been
forced to flee their homes since the fighting began, and
regional efforts to find a solution have so far failed.
(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Editing by David Lewis and Myra