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U.N., Democratic Republic of Congo government troops fire upon rebels in North-Kivu

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.N. and Democratic Republic of Congo government troops have traded gunfire with rebel positions in the eastern region of North-Kivu. Three helicopters belonging to the United Nations DR Congo mission, or MONUSCO and two gunships of the DR Congo army (FARDC) were seen. Explosions were heard around the villages of Nkokwe and Bukima, where rebels from the M23 group are thought to have some positions.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Officials from the U.N. and the army confirm that hostilities are ongoing. "The FARDC are currently attacking our positions, but they don't know where we are. There's no problems," a colonel from the mutiny told AFP.

Nkokwe and Bukima are about 30 miles north of the Nord-Kivu capital Goma.

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon has urged the presidents of DR Congo and its rival Rwanda to "defuse tensions" over the rebellion. The rebels, who have already seized a number of towns along the Ugandan border, have denied plans to advance on Goma.

DRC's Ambassador to Britain Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi says that his country was trying to "give peace a chance." An emergency meeting bringing together foreign and defense ministers from the Great Lakes region had been called by Uganda to end the crisis.

The DRC, Rwanda and neighboring states have called for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC's turbulent east.

An agreement signed on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has proposed an internationally-backed military response to an offensive by rebels in the DRC's North Kivu province.

It was not immediately clear in the agreement, which has yet to be presented to African heads of state at the Addis summit, where the troops would come from to establish the "neutral international force" that would take on the Congolese rebel groups.

Eastern Congo's ongoing conflict has its roots in the Tutsi-Hutu ethnic and political enmities dating back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The DRC has long maintained that its neighbor Rawanda, as the source of the current conflict.

Ambassador Karubi insisted Rwanda was backing M23 rebels, who take their name from the March 23, 2009, peace agreement they signed with the Congolese government, paving the way for them to be integrated in the national army.

They had previously belonged to the National Congress for the Defense of People.

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