Thousands of people have been displaced in the volatile eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as fighting between the army and M23 rebels moved close to the key city of Goma, an army spokesman has said.
Clashes picked up again in North Kivu province on Friday, ending about a week of relative calm since the group launched their latest offensive on October 20.
Battles have broken out around the villages of Kibumba, Rugari and Tongo, North-Kivu army spokesman, Guillaume Ndjike, said on Monday.
Kibumba is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Goma, which the M23 briefly overran during their first big insurrection in 2012.
“They are attacking but we are containing them and taking initiatives to push them back,” Ndjike told the Reuters news agency.
A Tongo resident who did not wish to be named said by telephone that the army had left and that people were fleeing en masse. A witness in Kibumba painted a similar picture.
On Tuesday, Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from Kibati village, approximately 15km (9 miles) away from Goma, said the Congolese government forces initially repelled M23’s attack on the town of Kibumba after more than a day of heavy fighting.
That has come against the backdrop of a looming humanitarian crisis as displaced people slept in makeshift camps in the area and complained about having little food for now. —Reuters