Congolese officials say government troops have recaptured a major town long in the hands of M23 rebels. Fighting in the region has forced thousands of people to flee across the border to Uganda.
The seizure of the eastern border town of Bunagana by the Congolese military was confirmed Wednesday by army, government and aid officials.
"Government soldiers have taken over Bunagana town and there's already a lot of celebration," Tom Ndyanabo, a Uganda Red Cross worker told Reuters news agency by telephone from the Congo-Uganda border crossing near the town.
The capture was also confirmed by the governor of North Kivu province, Julien Paluku.
Bunagana was the first town to be seized last year by M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Congolese army has already regained control of six other rebel-held towns in recent days as it attempts to crush a 20-month rebellion.
The conflict has forced many citizens to flee, with a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency saying that more than 5,000 people had already crossed the border to Uganda.
The M23 was founded by former Tutsi rebels who were incorporated into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal. They mutinied in April 2012, claiming the deal had never been properly implemented, and launched the current rebellion.
The UN and rights groups have accused the M23 of atrocities including rape and murder.
tj/dr (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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