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Armed Conflict

Rebels take control of Goma

Rebel fighters have advanced through a major city in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Reports indicated that UN troops did nothing to stop the rebels from taking control of the city.

Several hours after taking over the city's airport, rebel fighters from the group M23 marched through the urban area on Tuesday, effectively taking over the capital city of the North Kivu province, according to eye witnesses. M23's spokesperson also confirmed the reports.

"Despite the attack helicopters, despite the heavy weapons, the FARDC (Congo national army) has let the town fall into our hands," M23 spokesperson Colonel Vianney Kazarama told the news agency Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.

Neither UN peacekeepers stationed in Goma, nor the internationally-backed Congolese army, who had been trying to hold off the M23 fighters over the past few days, attempted to stop the renegade soldiers.

The takeover of Goma came less than a week after M23 rebels seized the nearby town of Kubumba, bringing them closer than ever before to the provincial capital city.

Renewed fighting between the government army and M23 broke out last week, bringing a two-month ceasefire to an end.

M23 was founded earlier this year when former rebels mutinied against the government, claiming that it had violated a peace deal with them which meant to integrate them into the army.

The international community currently suspects Rwanda of providing M23 with support in order to seize territories in the DRC. Rwanda has denied the accusations. The UN and United States have tried to intervene by slapping sanctions on the rebels' leader, Sultani Makenga.

kms/mz (AFP, Reuters, epd)