UN mission reports renewed fighting in eastern DR Congo

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported renewed clashes between national forces and an armed group, just one day after the Security Council authorized an intervention force to operate in the strife-torn east part of the country, a UN spokesman said here on Monday.

"The UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reported fighting in Kitchanga, North Kivu, this past Friday, between the Congolese Army and the APCLS armed group, " said Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the daily briefing.

"Approximately 11 APCLS combatants have reportedly been killed and one Congolese Army soldier has been injured," he said.

Following the fighting on Friday, MONUSCO peacekeepers in Kitchanga, a town 80km west of the provincial capital Goma, have " provided protection to about 1,500 civilians" in the midst of chronic instability in this chaotic state.

The spokesperson also said, "the violence in the country has to stop and that differences among groups there need to be resolved peacefully" in response to further questions placed by press here.

Last Thursday, UN Security Council unanimously approved an unprecedented offensive "Intervention Brigade" with a mandate to operate in the strife-torn eastern DRC.

While the enabling resolution authorizes the first-ever offensive unit, of 2,500 troops, to go after rebels by itself or with government troops in the nation's resource-rich eastern section on "an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent" for UN Peacekeeping Operations, it insists on a "clear exit strategy" before it expires in one year.

Furthermore, the special unit will become part of MONUSCO with its focus on "destabilizing activities of the March 23 Movement ( M23) and other Congolese and foreign armed groups operating in the eastern Congo," for violations of international humanitarian law, including "patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict" and an "increasing number of internally displaced persons in and refugees from eastern DRC."

The United Nations says almost 2 million people have been displaced due to the ongoing turmoil. As of now, the situation in Kitchanga is reported to be calm at present but the UN Mission continues to monitor the situation and patrol the area, said del Buey.