Voice of America (Washington, DC)

15 July 2013

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Forces Repel Latest M23 Rebel Attack

The Democratic Republic of Congo's government said its forces beat back a fierce attack Sunday by M23 rebels near the towns of Mutaho and Rusayo in the east of the country.

Information Minister Lambert Mende said the rebels suffered heavy losses with more than 100 killed and 12 captured.

He says about six or seven government troops were killed.

"At 1:00 PM, our forces in Mutaho and another place called Rusayo were attacked by M23 with heavy guns. They (government troops) had to respond to this aggression because they lost some soldiers," he said.

Mende says the rebels suffered heavy losses with more than 100 killed and 12 captured. He says about six or seven government troops were killed.

He said the government will hold a news conference Monday in Goma to present the captured rebels to members of the media.

The M23 said government troops first attacked their positions and that they were only responding to the provocation.

This new wave of fighting comes as a deployment of a new 3,000 U.N. Intervention Brigade with a much stronger mandate is underway.

Mende said the M23 and what he called its sponsors might have carried out the attack to sabotage the coming deployment of the Intervention Brigade - the first-ever United Nations offensive combat force.

"We supposed that M23 and its sponsors are not happy with the deployment of the international brigade, and as far as the brigade is finalizing its deployment, we think that this is the way sabotage the exercise," Mende said.

In a press release Sunday, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC known as MONUSCO expressed "deep concern over the M23 attack.

The mission said it has put its forces on "high alert and stand ready to take any necessary measures, including the use of lethal force in order to protect civilians".

Mende accused neighboring Rwanda of trying to undermine the Addis Ababa Agreement.

"It seems that some people are not willing for the peace process to succeed, and they are trying to stop it because every country in the region have signed the Addis Ababa Agreement. And now there is one of them who is using its power to destroy the process," Mende said.

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