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US 'alarmed' by eastern DR Congo violence

26 august 2013, 18:57
0
©REUTERS/James Akena
©REUTERS/James Akena
The United States on Sunday condemned rebel attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hailing the world body's efforts to protect the population, AFP reports.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US was "alarmed" by the escalating fighting between the army and rebels in the eastern DR Congo.

"We condemn the actions of the M23, which have resulted in civilian casualties, attacks on the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) and significant population displacements," Harf said in a statement, also expressing concern over reports the M23 has fired into Rwandan territory.

"We call on the M23 to immediately end the hostilities, lay down their arms, and disband, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions."

The spokeswoman praised UN efforts to protect civilians, after the world body announced it had opened a probe into accusations by residents that peacekeepers killed two people who tried to storm its Goma base during a protest.

"Attacks against UN installations and personnel are unacceptable," she said.

Witnesses said two peacekeepers from Uruguay shot dead two people Saturday who were part of a crowd attempting to storm the mission's base near the airport during a protest decrying the UN's inaction in the strife-torn region.

After a two-month lull, fighting between the army and the M23 has erupted sporadically since mid-July in North Kivu, a chronically unstable region with the mining hub of Goma as its capital.

Shelling in Goma's western neighborhood of Ndosho on Saturday killed three people and wounded three UN peacekeepers.

The M23, former fighters in a Tutsi rebel group who were integrated into the regular army under a 2009 peace deal but mutinied in April last year, have moved closer to Goma, accusing the government of reneging on its pledge to hold direct talks.

Rebels have threatened to recapture Goma but UN forces, including a 3,000-strong intervention brigade with a robust mandate to eradicate armed groups in the region, moved in to create a security zone around the city.

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