Four killed as fighting intensifies between soldiers and Congo rebels

Four people have been killed in eastern Congo as fighting intensifies between government soldiers and rebel M23 fighters who have lost most of the land they once controlled.

Lt Col Olivier Hamuli said the town of Bunagana, M23’s last stronghold, had been taken
over by Congolese government troops.

He blamed M23 rebels for the deaths, though their leader has called on his fighters to lay down their weapons.

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“Three mortar shells fell in east Congo and one across the border in Uganda,” Hamuli said. “We don’t understand why M23 signed a ceasefire only to not care about the civilians.”

Hamuli said that Congolese soldiers had also recaptured Mbuzi, one of the three remaining hills under the control of M23.

The intensified fighting between Congolese forces and M23 rebels has forced thousands more Congolese to seek refuge in Uganda, according to Uganda’s military and humanitarian workers.

Uganda deployed more troops and tanks near the border town once controlled by the rebels, Ugandan army spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said. He said they were “very concerned” after projectiles fired from Congo landed on Ugandan territory.

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At least five people have been injured in Uganda in the past week since Congolese forces intensified their assault on the rebels, Ankunda said.

Lucy Beck, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency in Uganda, said the Bunagana border area had become “too dangerous” for refugees and humanitarian workers.

Some Congolese who had returned home last week after a brief lull in fighting have since crossed back to Uganda.

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