United Nations helicopters have fired on rebel positions in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after new clashes broke out between rebel fighters and loyalist troops, officials have said.
The M23 rebels demand full implementation of the march 2009 peace deal.
Tuesday’s airbourne action followed renewed clashes that broke out between M23 rebel fighters and loyalist troops, north of the regional capital Goma.
The second such UN action against rebels came in response to a rebel offensive “against the civilian population”, Mamodj Munubai, a spokesman for MONUSCO, the UN mission in DR Congo, said on Tuesday.
Major Olivier Hamuli, the army spokesman for Nord Kivu province, said fighting erupted after rebels attacked army positions around Rugari and Kimumba, about 30 kilometres north of Goma.
But Colonel Vianney Kazarama, a spokesman for the M23, blamed the army for the firing: “From our side, we’re calm. Nothing to report.”
The DR Congo’s army was not immediately available for comment.
“We were in our house and we heard gunfire and then saw the soldiers running. When we saw the soldiers running, we also fled as we were scared.”
– Isidore Kambale, resident
No casualty figures were immediately available but Munubai said about 2,000 residents were forced to flee the region.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Peter Greste, reporting from Nairobi, said “people could be seen fleeing, carrying their belongings on their heads”.
“We were in our house and we heard gunfire and then saw the soldiers running. When we saw the soldiers running, we also fled as we were scared,” Isidore Kambale, a resident of Rugari, told the Reuters news agency as he took to the main road south. Read more…