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36 die in violent clashes in DR Congo

 
 
 
 
 
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A column of Congolese Army soldiers walk towards the frontline between two tanks, near the village of Kibumba, some 13 kilometers from Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 29, 2012.

A spokesman for the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) says at least 36 people have lost their lives following clashes between the Congolese army and a rebel group, called the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo in the mineral-rich North Kivu province in the central African country.

On Thursday, Eduardo del Buey also added that “This morning MONUSCO reported gunshots in the area.”

“The mission says that between 3,000 and 4,000 Congolese have now taken refuge around its base in Kitchanga, (located some 80 kilometers west of Goma)” the spokesman said.

Reports say that clashes between the Congo army and the rebel group erupted in the region on Wednesday.

This comes as the army is already fighting the March 23 movement (M23) rebels. The eight-month insurgency in the African nation has threatened to develop into an all-out war.

Several armed groups are active in the east of DRC and fighting for the control of the country’s vast mineral resources, including gold, the main tin ore cassiterite, and coltan (columbite-tantalite), which is used to make many electronic devices, including mobile phones.

Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

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