Fighting north of Goma - the end of the ceasefire?

From Congo Siasa Thu Nov 15 2012, 18:15:00

Fighting began early this morning north of Goma, around the Congolese army's defensive positions in Kibumba. According to various sources--including the Congolese army and the UN peacekeeping mission--the M23 launched the attack, pushing down toward Goma. While the M23 deny this, saying they had been provoked, there have been M23 troop movements observed in the past days that suggest that they had been preparing an attack.

We know that, at least for now, the offensive was pushed back by the Congolese army. But it's more difficult to figure out casualties. The North Kivu governor told the press that 44 M23 soldiers had died, and UN sources report having seen over a dozen bodies on the front lines.

Kibumba is the Congolese's army's main defensive position to the north of Goma, around 25 kilometers from the provincial capital. Under the command of Colonel Somo, one of the Belgian-trained officers, there are now reportedly over 3,000 army troops deployed in the surroundings, many of them dug into trenches. The Congolese army was quick to boast of its success, also claiming that they had been attacked from the Rwandan border at the town of Kasizi, just east of Kibumba.

It would appear that we are heading toward the end of ceasefire. While there have been skirmishes in Masisi and Rusthuru in recent weeks, these appear to have involved proxy groups on both sides--Mai-Mai working in collaboration with the Congolese army north and east of Rutshuru town, and M23 allies in central and northern Masisi. This appears to have been the first major fighting directly between M23 and the Congolese army in several months.

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