Conflict & Justice

DR Congo: UN steps in as M23 rebels threaten Goma


Rebels of the M23 group man their position on a hill overlooking Bunagana, a town near the Ugandan border on July 8, 2012. Mutineers from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday seized control of three towns in the country's eastern Nord-Kivu province, an AFP correspondent reported today. The rebels, known as M23, took Rutshuru and the towns of Ntamugenga and Rubare, less than 10 kilometres away on the road to the provincial capital Goma, shortly after 12:00 pm local time.



The UN is sending peacekeepers to protect Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the threat of rebels from the M23 group.

UN envoy Roger Meece said he intends to protect communities in the eastern DRC from the advancing rebels, the BBC reported. The UN's mission in the country, known as MONUSCO, is relocating troops from its peacekeeping force to guard the city of Goma.

Rebels captured the key town of Rutshuru, about 40 miles north of Goma, over the weekend. 

Leaders with the M23 say they have no intention to take Goma, a city in the eastern DRC, and want to negotiate a peace deal with government. 

More from GlobalPost: Rwanda backs Congo rebels: report

According to the BBC, the rebels took up arms in April, and named themselves M23 after a failed peace deal signed on March 23, 2009.

The fighters are supporters of General Bosco Ntaganda, known as "The Terminator," who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Agence France-Presse reported that the UN is concerned the rebels are procuring arms from other countries, amid reports the M23 mutineers are well-armed and equipped. 

Goma, with a population of more than 500,000 people, is a key transit hub for the minerals trade in the eastern DRC.

"It would be disastrous if Goma was taken," a UN official told AFP.

More from GlobalPost: Congo's 'Terminator': ransoming a country's peace