UN concerned over clashes in Democratic Republic of Congo
Iran Press TV
Tue May 21, 2013 1:35PM GMT
The United Nations has expressed concern over recent clashes between armed men and government troops in eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a statement released by the UN spokesperson Eduardo del Buey, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), expressed on Monday the organization's concerns about the incident, stressing "the mission is actively pursuing a diplomatic and political solution to contain and end the clashes."
The statement also said that heavy weapons and rocket launchers were used in the clashes.
"The Mission reports that initial skirmishes escalated to the use of heavy caliber weapons, mortars and rocket launchers," the statement said.
Monday morning, Congolese soldiers clashed with the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels for the first time in nearly six months since the rebels retreated from the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Fighting began after the M23 rebels attacked government positions around 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the mineral-rich city, according to army spokesman Olivier Hamuli.
The fighting comes after the UN began deploying an attack force to the east last week to neutralize armed groups in the area.
The UN has nearly 20,000 peacekeepers in eastern Congo.
Several armed groups, including the March 23 movement (M23) rebels, are active in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and fighting for the control of the country's vast mineral resources.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.
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