Civilians caught in the fighting between DRC's army and the M23 rebels

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In eastern DRC the fighting between Congolese forces and the M23 rebel movement is spreading the panic amongst the civilian population.

At the end of last week two children were killed when shells hit a school.

"What happened to us is very tragic. My child was not sick, and I knew he was playing with his friends not far from home, and then I learnt that he died, I was in utter shock. And what a death. He was in a thousand pieces. It is a great tragedy", lamented Nziyumvira Joseph, agricultural worker and father of one of the victims.

The two children attended the Saint-Gilbert school in Biruma, about 50 km north of Goma, halfway between the North Kivu capital, Goma, and Bunagana, a trade centre on the Ugandan border, which was seized on Monday by the M23 ("March 23 Movement") rebels.

"We are really really, tired. We demand more protection so that our children may live in peace now. When there's a crackling sound, the children panic and have to flee. The child who died will not come back, but those who remain must be protected", pleaded Sifa Nine ra, a female resident from Biruma.

"Several residents have fled and still have not returned because of the terror that reigns here after this explosion. People don't sleep anymore, it's fear that dominates. Even when you throw a stone, the inhabitants think it's a bomb and there is fear everywhere. The residents are panicked and very stressed", admitted Floribert Hakizumwami, head of Biruma village. 

On Tuesday evening, the Congolese government reacted accusing Rwanda of supporting the rebels and vowing to defend "every inch" of its territory.

Rwanda rejected all accusations of involvement.

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