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UN experts accuse Rwanda of supporting DR Congo rebels

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A group of independent experts from the United Nations have accused Rwanda of providing military and logistic support for rebels in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a 236-page document presented to the UN Security Council on Friday, the experts accuse Rwandan Army of “engaging in military operations” against DR Congo’s military in the country’s troubled east.

The report which is expected to be published in the coming days, comes after the DRC again, accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels which has been causing havoc in the eastern part of the country.

The report said there was substantial evidence that the Rwandan army directly intervened in Congo’s fight against M23 rebels, and that it had supported the group with weapons, ammunition and uniforms.

Though Rwanda has repeatedly denied supporting the rebels, the UN experts’ report further indicted the Rwandan military of “reinforcing” the M23 in their clashes with the DRC soldiers.

Part of the report stated that Rwanda provided troop reinforcements to the M23 “for specific operations, in particular when these were aimed at seizing strategic towns and areas.”

It added that Rwandan troops also led joint attacks with M23 fighters against Congolese positions in May, according to the report.

But the Rwandese authorities have denied the allegations of supporting the M23 rebels.

While reacting to the accusation, Rwanda’s deputy government spokesman, Alain Mukuralinda, said his country had not seen the substance of the report or the evidence it was based upon.

“Today, as long as we have not seen the material evidence, as long as we have not examined this so-called evidence, it is difficult to take a position.

“We do not support the M23, we do not need it,” he said.

Metro

M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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Metro

237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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