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Rebel Attacks in Eastern Congo

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For the past five months, a newly formed rebel group in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been attacking government forces and seizing small towns, and it just took control of the city of Goma a week ago. The movement, called the March 23 Movement (M23), is made up of former members of previous rebel groups and is largely a continuation of hostilities in the region that date back to the First Congo War in 1996. Amid a complicated web of proxy battles, political posturing, defections, and re-defections, M23 rebel forces (purportedly supported by Rwanda) have fought fierce battles against DR Congo government troops and local Mai-Mai militias, sending civilians fleeing for shelter. UN peacekeeping forces in the region have not resisted the advances of the rebels, claiming their duty is to protect civilians, not to act as a substitute national army. Several hundred rebels, soldiers, and civilians have reportedly been killed, and many more wounded, so far. At the moment, M23 refuses to leave Goma and has a stated intention of overthrowing the national government. [37 photos]

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The body of a dead Congolese army soldier lies in the road between Goma and Kibati, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on November 18, 2012. Government soldiers were fleeing the eastern DR Congo city of Goma in large numbers today as rebels advanced to the gates of the regional capital, a UN source said. Rebels took control of Goma two days later. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)
The body of a dead Congolese army soldier lies in the road between Goma and Kibati, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on November 18, 2012. Government soldiers were fleeing the eastern DR Congo city of Goma in large numbers today as rebels advanced to the gates of the regional capital, a UN source said. Rebels took control of Goma two days later. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)
A Congolese boy runs through the town of Sake, 26km from Goma, as gunfire erupted at the edge of the town in the east of DR Congo, on November 22, 2012. Thousands fled the town today as gunfire and mortar explosions rocked the town, which was soon under M23 rebel control. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
Brigadier General Sultani Makenga (seated) of the newly formed Congolese Revolutionary speaks to the media in Rumangabo military camp, DR Congo, on October 23, 2012. The M23 Movement, the newly formed political wing of former M23 rebels, has formed a semi autonomous administration structure in areas under their control. (Reuters/James Akena) #
In this Monday, October 22, 2012 photo, Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga, president of rebel group M23, addresses a rally in Bunagana, eastern DR Congo. Runiga said that fighting may widen soon in eastern Congo if President Joseph Kabila's government does not negotiate with the M23 rebels. A United Nations report accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the rebellion. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera) #
Congolese flee the town of Sake, 27km west of Goma, on November 23 2012. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as platoons of rebels made their way across the hills from Sake to the next major town of Minova, where the Congolese army was believed to be regrouping. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Displaced families walk towards Goma as they flee from renewed fighting in Sake, DR Congo, on November 23, 2012. Rebels in eastern Congo pushed south along Lake Kivu on Friday after repelling a counter-attack by government forces near the new rebel stronghold in the city of Goma on the Rwandan border. (Reuters/James Akena) #
Uruguayan United Nations peacekeepers watch M23 rebel positions on the outskirts of Goma, DR Congo, on November 18, 2012. Government soldiers fled Goma in large numbers as rebels advanced to the gates of the regional capital. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
M23 rebels sit in a truck as they patrol a street in Goma in the eastern DR Congo, on November 20, 2012, soon after the rebels captured the city from the government army. Rebels claimed control of Goma, walking through the frontier city of one million people past U.N. peacekeepers who did nothing to stop them. (Reuters/James Akena) #
A young boy jumps through a hole as others peer through the wall of a cell at Muzenze Prison in Goma, on November 21, 2012. Almost all inmates of Goma's main prison managed to break out after prison overseers abandoned their positions to flee from advancing M23 rebels two days ago. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Lokuli Loleko Prince, after finding the body of his father in the Ndosho district of Goma, on November 21, 2012. Lokuli's father, a government military doctor, was killed in fighting yesterday between the government army and M23 rebels as they took the provincial capital. Lokuli and his two brothers came across his father's body by chance in the western district of Goma, having searched in the morgue and a hospital yesterday evening. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Congolese soldier at the last Congolese army checkpoint in Munigi, where fighting between the M23 and the Congolese army has been taking place in the past days near Goma, on November 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Melanie Gouby) #
Congolese women run after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours over the eastern Congolese town of Sake, west of Goma, on November 22, 2012. The woman in orange only identified as Mamou, said she lost her husband to a fatal wound to the head from incoming mortar round. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
A child stands near the body of a dead Congolese government soldier in Nyaruchinga, near Goma, on November 22, 2012. (Reuters/James Akena) #
Eli Kakule, 10, sits on his hospital bed at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma, on November 26, 2012. Kakule was seriously wounded by mortar shrapnel during heavy fighting in Goma. Brought to the hospital in shock, he was revived but his arm had to be amputated. His mother Anastasia (not pictured) found him at the hospital, four days later. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
An M23 rebel walks down a street, past a UN armored personnel carrier, in Goma, on November 20, 2012. Following gun fights with government soldiers this morning, the rebels walked through the city of Goma, and continued un-challenged, past United Nations peacekeepers. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
Congolese flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake, on November 23 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Displaced Congolese children stand against the gate of a religious organization on the outskirts of Goma, on November 25, 2012. Over half a million people have been displaced in eastern Congo since the outbreak of the M23 rebellion. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
Internally displaced Congolese gather at the Mugunga 3 camp west of Goma, on November 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Juane, 5, displaced by recent fighting in eastern Congo, sits next to her family's makeshift shelter overlooking Mugunga IDP camp, outside of Goma, on November 24, 2012. (Reuters/James Akena) #
A Congolese woman takes communion at an open-air church service where thousands of internally displaced persons are sheltering on the outskirts of Goma, on November 25, 2012. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
Fighters from the M23 rebel movement sing and celebrate on the back of a truck as they pass a camp for the internally displaced in Mugunga, on November 24, 2012. Thousands of people have been displaced in sporadic fighting between M23 rebel outfit against government forces in eastern DR Congo's North Kivu region. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Congolese civilians flee the embattled town of Sake, on November 23 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Congolese Red Cross volunteers place the corpse of a government army soldier into a freshly dug grave near Sake, DR Congo, on November 24, 2012. The Red Cross were working around Sake, clearing the bodies left from fighting on Thursday after M23 rebels clashed with the government army. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
An injured M23 rebel lies in a bed at the military hospital in Goma, on November 21, 2012 after being shot in the thorax during an M23 offensive in Kibumba, on November 15, and brought by military doctors to the hospital. The barracks were abandoned when government troops lost the city yesterday, leaving 52 casualties, 46 of whom were government soldiers. "All of our team remained during the clashes" said Dr. Ntumba Stephane, a military doctor. "We were not given the order to leave.". (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Congolese M23 rebel walks down a street in Goma, on November 20, 2012, soon after the rebels captured the city from the government army. (Reuters/James Akena) #
A Congo government policeman hands in his weapon to M23 rebels during an M23 rally in Goma, DR Congo, on November 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Melanie Gouby) #
A Congolese man who lost his legs during 2008 fighting between government soldiers and a former rebel group sits on the ground with his prosthetic legs, near Goma's football stadium, on November 21, 2012. Thousands of Congolese soldiers and policemen defected to the M23 rebels, as rebel leaders vowed to take control of all Congo, including the capital Kinshasa. (AP Photo/Marc Hofer) #
M23 rebel spokesperson Vianney Kazarama speaks to a crowd who have gathered at a stadium in Goma, on November 21, 2012. Rebel forces in eastern DR Congo said on Wednesday they planned to take control of the whole of the vast central African country after they captured the eastern town of Goma while United Nations peacekeepers looked on. (Reuters/James Akena) #
Residents of Goma react as they listen to M23 rebel group spokesman at the Volcanoes Stadium in Goma, on November 21, 2012. Lt. Col. Kazarama addressed the population of Goma today in an attempt to calm and reassure the civilians following the fall of Goma to M23 rebels. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images) #
M23 rebel fighters show military equipment abandoned by fleeing government army forces, on November 23, 2012, following the capture of Goma. (Reuters/James Akena) #
An M23 fighter guards containers storing arms, abandoned by fleeing government army forces, on November 23, 2012. (Reuters/James Akena) #
Promess Bitibo, 12, who was injured by bullet wounds to the abdomen on November 19 2012, grimaces as he is dressed by a nurse at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma, on November 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Congolese army (FARDC) soldiers sit in a military truck in Minova, some 45 km (28 miles) west of Goma, on November 26, 2012. DR Congo said on Sunday it would not negotiate with M23 rebels in the east until they pulled out of the city of Goma, but a rebel spokesman said Kinshasa was in no position to set conditions on peace talks. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
A South Africa contingent of UN peacekeepers in Congo erects a razor wire barrier around Goma airport, on November 26, 2012. (Reuters/James Akena) #
Displaced Congolese women walk through Mugunga 3 camp west of Goma, on November 26, 2012. Regional leaders meeting in Uganda called for an end to the advance by M23 rebels toward Congo's capital, and also urged the Congolese government to sit down with rebel leaders as residents fled some towns for fear of more fighting between the rebels and army. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Congolese M23 rebel fighters detain a man they suspect to be an FDLR (Force Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda) rebel returning from an incursion into Rwanda Near Kibumba, north of Goma, on November 27, 2012. A Rwandan military spokesman confirmed the FDLR attacked Rwandan positions on Tuesday, which they repulsed and send back to Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
A column of Congolese M23 rebels motion to the photographer not to take pictures on the road from Goma to Rushuru, as they search for FDLR (Force Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda) members, returning from an incursion into Rwanda Near Kibumba, DR Congo, on November 27, 2012. Speaking in Goma, M23 president Jean Marie Runiga said the rebels refuse to leave the city of 1 million which they seized a week ago. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

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