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M23 rebel group declares unilateral ceasefire in eastern Congo

M23 rebels near the town of Mutaho, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Heavy fighting broke out on Monday after the M23 attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns, causing thousands of people to flee into Uganda.
M23 rebels near the town of Mutaho, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Heavy fighting broke out on Monday after the M23 attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns, causing thousands of people to flee into Uganda.
Image: Reuters

The M23 rebel group has declared a unilateral ceasefire after several days of clashes with the army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, its spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

The group said it was seeking dialogue with the government and that it had withdrawn its troops from the combat zone in order to avoid new confrontations with the Congolese army.

Congo's army spokesperson and government spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment.

Heavy fighting broke out on Monday after the M23 attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns, causing thousands of people to flee into Uganda.

The M23 seized large swathes of territory during an insurrection in 2012 and 2013, before its fighters were driven out by Congolese and United Nations forces. They have since returned from neighbouring countries to stage attacks.

M23 spokesperson Willy Ngoma has previously said that his troops were acting defensively and accused the Congolese army of waging war against them.

There have been regional efforts in recent years to have the M23 demobilise, but its leaders have complained about the slow implementation of a peace accord.

Reuters

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