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Conflict

M23 rebels in east Congo call end to insurgency

The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic Congo has declared its 20-month insurgency to be at an end. The announcement comes shortly after the government had announced victory over the rebels after days of clashes.

DR Congo announces victory over rebels

In a statement issued on Tuesday, M23 president Bertrand Bisimwa said, "The chief of general staff and the commanders of all major units are requested to prepare troops for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration on terms to be agreed with the government of Congo."

Bisimwa added that the group would henceforth use "political means only" to resolve its grievances.

The announcement came shortly the Congolese military declared victory over the rebels after capturing the last two hills in M23 hands.

A DRC government spokesman said on Tuesday that the last M23 fighters had either surrendered or fled over the border into neighboring Uganda.

He added that their weapons had been destroyed overnight.

This followed fierce clashes between the Congolese army and rebels on Monday in the region surrounding the city of Bunagana on the border to Uganda.

The UN special force in eastern DRC supported government troops during a massive assault on the rebels over the past few days that forced the insurgents to give up their last strongholds.

Rebel cease-fire call

Clashes continued on Monday although the rebels had called for a cease-fire on the weekend.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates that some 800,000 people have fled their homes since the M23 (March 23 Movement) insurgency began in early 2012.

The M23 was founded by ethnic Tutsi former rebels who had been incorporated into the army under a 2009 peace deal, but who mutinied in April 2012.

The eastern region is likely to remain unstable even if the M23 rebels are defeated, as there are up to 40 other militias that terrorize villages in the area.

tj/rc (epd, AFP)

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