November 19, 2012 / 11:04 AM / in 5 years

Congo rebels set 24-hour deadline for talks with government

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo gave the government on Monday 24 hours to open peace talks and pull back its forces or risk an escalation of fighting in the east - some of the worst in four years.

The M23 rebel group, who U.N. experts say are backed by neighboring Rwanda, on Sunday advanced to within 5 km of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province, after pushing back U.N. peacekeepers and government troops.

“To allow for a peaceful solution to the current situation, our movement is demanding that the government in Kinshasa... cease its military offensive... demilitarize the town and Goma airport within 24 hours,” the statement said.

Reporting by Kenny Katombe; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jon Boyle

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