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Congo rebels continue offensive

Rebel forces in Northern Congo are advancing after capturing the city of Goma. The UN has called for an end to violence as cross-border tension, spurred by accusations of Rwandan support for the rebels, grows.

The M23 rebels spokesperson Vianney Kazarama (L) speaks to the crowd who have gathered at a stadium in Goma November 21, 2012.REUTERS/James Akena

Konflikt im Kongo M23 Rebellen in Goma

M23 forces took Sake Wednesday without firing a shot, as the Congolese army had withdrawn overnight, according to the Reuters news agency.

The reported seizure comes one day after the rebels captured the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) to the east.

Sake, which lies near the Rwandan border, is located on an important road along Lake Kivu that runs south to Bukavu, 100 kilometers (62 miles) away.

'Journey to liberate Congo'

The rebels have vowed to continue south towards the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, telling a crowd of people at the Goma stadium just hours before advancing on Sake that the "journey to liberate Congo has started now."

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"We're going to move on to Bukavu, and then to Kinshasa," said rebel spokesman Vianney Kazaram (pictured above) to the crowd. "Are you ready to join us?"

The Congolese government issued a statement saying it had lost the battle, but would win the war. "Victory will be ours," it said. "That is what the Congolese want."

Neighboring Rwanda has been accused of backing M23 forces, a group of former soldiers who broke away from the government earlier this year. Congo says Rwanda is using the rebels to gain control over important natural resources, including diamonds and gold, which are abundant in the area.

United Nations experts have supported the accusation, but the Rwandan government denies the link.

UN concern

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council passed resolution condemning M23's occupation of Goma, and demanded its withdraw. The resolution called for "the cessation of any further advances by the M23 and that its members immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms."

The UN also called for an immediate end to external aid to the rebels and asked the UN secretary-general to report on allegations of foreign support.

There are approximately 19,000 peacekeeping soldiers from the UN in Congo, 1,500 of which were in Goma before ceding the city to M23 forces.

dr/ipj  (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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