GOMA – Fighting raged between soldiers and rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for a second day Saturday, the army said, just days after the latest peace talks failed.
The clashes resumed at dawn in Kibumba, some 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of Goma, a strategic city of one million people in the mineral-rich but volatile east, an army officer told AFP under condition of anonymity.
A human rights activist from Kibumba told AFP “there were detonations all night long” in the town.
Meanwhile, Bertrand Bisimwa, political chief of the M23 rebel group that controls territory near the Rwandan border, said the army had launched a new offensive around Mabenga, a town some 90 kilometres north of Goma.
“They are trying to see if they can make a breakthrough, but it is hopeless,” he said.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, said Friday that it was “extremely concerned” about the fresh hostilities, calling on the M23 rebels to return to the negotiating table.
The UN Security Council in March approved the deployment of a special African force of up to 3,000 troops — under MONUSCO command and led by a Tanzanian general — with an unprecedented mandate to target rebel groups in DR Congo.
On Monday, the rival sides both announced a halt to peace talks taking place in the Ugandan capital Kampala despite UN pressure to end the 18-month-old rebellion ravaging eastern DR Congo.