M23 Congolese Rebels Reinforced by Rwandan Defense Forces Target Goma
On Monday May 20, 2013, Congolese Rebels known as M23 reinforced by Rwandan Defense Forces troops launched attacks on positions held by Congolese Government forces, FARDC around Goma. The attacks, in preparation since late April 2013, threatened Goma, the provincial capital of North-Kivu Province and have sent scores of displaced into the jungles or already crowded camps.
Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) started entering the Democratic Republic of the Congo on April 3, 2013 under the cover of M23 rebels dissidents who, allegedly were being reintegrated. The M23 rebels had entered Rwanda on March 16, 2013 after sham battles among two M23 factions to cover the forced deployment of Rwandan troops due to international pressure (see: Kibumba: Fightings Between M23 Factions Never Happened).
On April 13, 2013 M23 High Command, along with the Commanders of the battalion of Rwandan Defense Forces sent to reinforce the M23 rebels held a meeting in Bunagana(see our article: M23 Rebels High Command Orders Kidnapping of South African Military Troops). During the meeting, it was decided to resume fightings as soon as possible and to send a commando to capture Commanders of the UN Intervention Brigade, especially those from South Africa in order to put popular pressure on the South African President Jacob Zuma, especially after the recent debacle of South African troops in Central African Republic.
During Monday May 20, 20123 attacks, M23 rebels and Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) briefly occupied the town of Mutaho, in the Muja villages, the territory of Nyiragongo and killed 5 FARDC troops. The town of Mutaho is 12 km from Goma.
According to sources in Goma, FARDC troops, supported with heavy weapons from the Tanzanian troops within the UN Intervention Brigade, who recently arrived in Goma, pushed back the M23 rebels and RDF, killing more than a dozen and capturing weapons.
Meanwhile, the sources told AfroAmerica Network that, overnight, more troops from Rwanda have entered into the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Virunga park and the border town of Kibumba held by M23 rebels.
Sources within MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the DRC told AfroAmerica Network that there are signs of a heavy traffic crossing the border from Rwanda to Kibati and Kibumba, and most likely included troops, but since Kibumba was occupied by M23 rebels, it was difficult to identify the nature of the traffic.
“To put it mildly through, it is an open secret. Rwandan Defense Troops have returned to Congo in force, ” the sources confided.
The attacks happened as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected in Kinshasa on Wednesday May 22, 2013 and then in Kigali, Rwanda.
Whether this a slap in the face of or a test of the will of the United Nations Security Council and its Intervention Brigade or a start of a long military conflict remains to be seen. Meanwhile, as he visits the DRC and Rwandan capitals, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will have much to talk about.