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M23 takes over Bunagana, refugees flee to Uganda

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By Josephine Lukoya& Agencies

newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

Violent clashed broke out throughout the whole day Thursday, July 5 to 6th when the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and rebels of the Movement of March 23 (M23), in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu engaged into fierce fighting over the strategic town of Bunagana.

The localities as Tchengerero Jomba and Bugusa Hill, about 7 km from Bunagana on the border with Uganda, are now occupied by the rebels, according to several local sources. Thousands of people fled the region to other towns and neighboring Uganda.

Bunagana town is also in full control of the rebels of M23. M23 rebels conquered this morning the border post to Uganda. 600 Congolese soldiers fleeing into Uganda, Indian peacekeeper shot dead. According to the eye witness and sources in regular army

FARDC launched an offensive against rebel positions around 3 am (local time) yesterday. The clashes were continuing till afternoon was continuing, said several sources in Rutshuru. They took place in the area Tchengerero, Jomba and towards the hill of Bugusa, which would have passing the morning, the rebel-M23 were taking Bunagana.

Armed Forces of the DRC, however, attempt to regain control of the entire region, said a military official on site. To this end, the regular army was put to the combat helicopters, heavy weapons to stop the rebel advance in localities still quiet, the source said.

This has caused a displacement of thousands of people. At Tchengerero, over a thousand of the displaced households who were there took the path Busanza, east of Tchengerero, and to other localities.

Hundreds of other people of the City of Bunagana found refuge in Uganda, according to several sources. This is a new wave of displaced people fleeing fighting between the two recurring parts in the region. More than 8,200 civilians have sought refuge in Rwanda since April 27, and over 30,000 in Uganda in May, according to statistics released on Wednesday 16 May by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Estimated at over three hundred, according to Kinshasa, the rebels of the M23 are veterans of the National Congress for People’s Defense (CNDP), which were integrated into FARDC after a peace agreement on 23 March 2009. They began to defect from their units in the South and North Kivu, in early April, citing problems such as wages, food, Graduation and functions.

They are the subject of stalking on the part of the Congolese army, since late April. They are so entrenched in the extreme north-east of a small band of Virunga National Park, bordered by Rwanda and Uganda. We took a stand on some hills, including that of Runyonyi where their HQ. The town of Jomba, where the clashes took place on Thursday, is the stronghold of former CNDP leader, Laurent Nkunda, officially under house arrest since January 2009 in Rwanda.

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