SECTIONS

DR Congo claims defeat of M23 rebels

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed victory over M23 rebels in the east of the country.

A government spokesman said the last remaining rebels had either fled across the border or surrendered and their weapons had been destroyed overnight.

The M23 have not publicly commented on the claim. Kinshasa earlier rejected rebel calls for a truce.

At least 800,000 people have fled their homes since the conflict began in 2012.

Last week, the UN special envoy to DR Congo, Martin Kobler, said the group was all but finished as a military threat in DR Congo.

Key base seized

On Tuesday, government spokesman Lambert Mende told the BBC that Congolese special forces had defeated the rebels.

He said that UN tanks and helicopters had been supporting the Congolese army since Monday.

Mr Mende added that rebel military leader Sultani Makenga was among those who crossed the border either to Rwanda or Uganda.

Government forces had earlier captured Bunagana, the main base of the M23 on the DR Congo-Uganda border.

The army has recently had a string of victories, driving the rebels from all towns they once controlled during a 20-month rebellion.

Peace talks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, broke down last month following two months of negotiations.

On Sunday, M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa called for a ceasefire to "allow the continuation of the political process".

He urged rebel commanders to "ensure the strict observance of this order".

But Kinshasa rejected the call.

Separately, African leaders holding talks on the crisis told the M23 that they must publicly declare an end to their insurgency.

A statement released after the summit in South Africa said if they did so a peace agreement could be signed in five days' time

BBC