DRC, UN troops reinforce threatened city of Goma
NEW YORK – The United Nations and Democratic Republic of Congo troops are reinforcing a key city in the east of the country to guard against attack by rebels who have seized ground in recent days, UN officials said.
The UN Security Council was due to discuss the new strife yesterday while international leaders are to use an African Union summit in Addis Ababa this week to try to defuse tensions between DRC and Rwanda over the fighting.
DRC authorities and the United Nations fear that the M23 movement, which took one town on the Uganda border last week and forced 600 government troops to flee, may target the provincial capital of Goma, UN officials said.
M23, a group of mutineers led by accused war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, has already briefly taken other towns near its new stronghold in Bunagana.
“It would be disastrous if Goma was taken,” said a UN official who gave details of the reinforcements.
The DRC government is moving a US-trained battalion from the north of the country to Goma, the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The battalion, previously used in the hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters, will join about 7 000 troops already in Nord Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital.
The UN mission in DRC, known by the acronym Monusco, is moving Ghanaian troops and Guatemalan, Jordanian and Egyptian special forces from its 18 000-strong peacekeeping force to the city, said the UN official.
M23 broke away from the government army in April complaining about conditions. In the past two weeks its numbers have grown from about 1 000 to 2 000 fighters, according to the official.
Monusco has told the UN headquarters that “the M23 forces appear well equipped, well supplied, they have recently got more troops”, said the official.
The DRC government has accused neighbouring Rwanda of supporting M23. Rwanda has strongly denied the claims though a recent report by a panel of UN sanctions experts said fighters and weapons used by M23 have come from Rwanda. – Nampa-AFP