Fighting breaks out near eastern DR Congo city of Goma

Fighting erupted near the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Tuesday, residents and local officials said, a day after neighbouring Rwanda accused the Congolese army of shelling its territory.

Details of the unrest remain unclear, but several residents of the area around the dormant volcano of Mikeno, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Goma, said they heard heavy weapons fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

“A position of the Congolese armed forces was attacked,” said local civil society group leader Olivier Nzabonimpa.

He added that many villagers from the area had fled to Goma or across the border to Rwanda.  

Boniface Kagumyo, the mayor of a commune in the area, blamed the attack on the M23 group. 

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The M23 militia emerged out of a 2013 ethnic Tutsi Congolese rebellion that was supported by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda at the time.

M23 resumed fighting earlier this year, accusing DR Congo’s government of having failed to respect a 2009 agreement under which its fighters were to be incorporated into the army.

The fighting north of Goma comes a day after Rwanda’s army said rocket shelling from Congolese armed forces had struck areas inside Rwandan territory, injuring civilians. 

DR Congo’s government has yet to respond to the statement. 

Since the mass arrival in the vast central African nation of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, relations between the two countries have been strained. 

DR Congo’s government has regularly accused Rwanda of carrying out incursions into its territory and of backing armed groups there.

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