Thousands flee as conflict between Congolese army and M23 rebels continues

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Thousands of people have fled as fighting between the Congolese army (FARDC) and M23 rebels continued in the territory of Nyiragongo, near Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

Emptying their homes they have taken off in the direction of Rugari in the north, or to Kibati, south of Goma.

On Sunday the United Nations denounced a 'deliberate' M23 attack on peacekeepers and the armed forces, who, they said responded in accordance with their mandate.

"We are displaced, we are fleeing the clashes that took place today. Following this situation we are afraid, that is why we are going to Kibati near Goma," said Alexis Sikuli.

Aline Mundozi, who has also been displaced had a message for President Félix Tshisekedi: 

"I would like to tell our President Félix Tshisekedi that we are tired of war, we ask that he looks to save us from this suffering"

Local authorities believe that the latest attack in the village of Buhumba was the work of the M23 rebels who came from the border with Rwanda.

It is thought they want to occupy the strategic region, which is close to the city of Goma.

"We can confirm without fear of being contradicted that it is Rwanda that is supporting the M23 for the moment because the M23 had been defeated, it would no longer have the strength to come and attack our valiant FARDC," said Ghislain Bolingo, a member of local civil society.

On Monday, the Rwandan army accused the Congolese forces of having launched bombs into its territory and requested an investigation.

The spokesman for the governor of North Kivu has denounced it as "a dramatisation of the situation" by the Rwandan armed forces.

The M23 is a former Tutsi rebellion defeated in 2013 by the armed forces of the DRC which reappeared at the end of last year. 

It accuses the authorities of Kinshasa of not having respected commitments on the demobilization of its fighters.

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