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Fighting flares in DRC ahead of Ban visit

22 May 2013, 16:03

Kinshasa - Fresh fighting erupted between the army and rebels in the eastern Democratic republic of Congo on Wednesday ahead of a visit by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to the troubled country.

M23 rebels said they came under attack near the flashpoint city of Goma, a day after the government said 19 people were killed in battles between the rival forces on Monday.

"The FARDC [government force] has been attacking us since 06:00 with mortars, tanks and rocket launchers in the Mutaho area," M23 military spokesperson Vianney Kazarama said.

Colonel Mustapha Mamadou, in charge of army operations in the area, confirmed that fighting had erupted for the third straight day in the volatile region.

The latest unrest flared barely a week after the first troops from a new UN intervention brigade arrived in the country with a strong mandate to attack rebel groups.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende had told journalists that Monday's clashes had left 15 rebels and four soldiers dead.

Kazarama however had rejected the figures, saying only two loyalist troops and two rebels were wounded.

Ban's visit comes after a UN-brokered accord in February aimed at ending the M23 uprising last year that briefly saw the rebels seize control of Goma, the main hub in the resource-rich region.

However peace talks have since have stalled.



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