UN blames Congo M23 rebels for shelling into Rwanda | News | DW | 29.08.2013
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UN blames Congo M23 rebels for shelling into Rwanda

The UN has blamed shelling from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into Rwanda on M23 rebels. Attempts by the DRC and the UN to oust rebels in the area has led to increased violence in recent days.

UN peacekeepers in the DRC have witnessed M23 rebels shelling into Rwanda over the past week, but no firing by the Congolese army, the UN said Thursday.

The deputy UN peacekeeping chief Edmont Mulet briefed the UN Security Council on the matter, French Ambassador Alexis Lamek said.

"Mr. Mulet explained that actually the only acts of shelling witnessed by [the UN mission in Congo] towards the Rwandan territory ... do come from M23," Lamek told reporters after the meeting.

Mortar shells landed in the Rwandan border town of Rubavu earlier on Thursday. Rubavu lies less than 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of the Goma, eastern Congo's main city, which has experienced increased violence in recent days as UN-backed government forces attempt to uproot rebel troops.

The deputy mayor of Rubavu called the shelling on Thursday "deliberate," rejecting the idea that the incident was a spillover of fighting across the border in DRC.

"We can hear the shelling on the other side" of the border," Rubavu Deputy Mayor Ezechiel Nsengiyumva Buntu said. "We have alerted people but we have no idea where they will fire."

Rwanda suspected of backing M23

Both the DRC government and the United Nations suspect the Rwandan government of supporting M23 rebels, a group of soldiers who briefly took control of Goma last year after a dispute with the government in Kinshasa. Rwanda denies this claim.

The M23 troops - primarily from the Tutsi community - mutinied in April 2012 after claiming the Congolese government had not honored a peace deal. They took their name from the day of the 2009 peace deal: March 23.

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In November 2012, the M23 successfully advanced past hundreds of UN peacekeeping troops and invaded Goma, a city of one million people. International pressure forced the rebel troops to withdraw less than two weeks later.

In March, the UN decided to form an extra intervention force of some 3,000 troops from Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi with an unprecedented mandate to keep areas secure for civilians. The special brigade has since engaged in clashes with M23 rebels, using helicopters and artillery.

France wants action in DRC

A report released by the news agency AFP indicated on Thursday that France wanted the UN Security Council to address the heightened tensions in the DRC. The call followed the death on Wednesday of a Tanzanian UN soldier. At least three other troops were wounded.

Lieutenant Colonel Felix Basse, the military spokesman for the UN mission told DW that the UN troops were "determined" to implement the mandate issued by the Security Council "because civilians are being targetted and killed without any reason."

He said the front line was not in Goma but 15 kilometers away, in the Kibati area north of Goma.

Rwanda reluctant

Rwanda has since rejected calls for it to publicly condemn the M23 attacks against UN peacekeepers, drawing criticism from the UN.

In a separate disagreement, the Rwandan government has also rejected a US-French proposal to levy sanctions on two M23 commanders, citing a lack of strong evidence.

kms/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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