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M23 rebels take Goma in eastern DR Congo, defeating UN peacekeepers

Rebel fighters from the M23 uprising have entered Goma, a key hub in the resource-rich eastern DRC.

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M23 rebels walk through the jungle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's restive North Kivu province on July 28, 2012. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Rebel fighters from the M23 rebel group have occupied Goma, a key city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The rebel group met little resistance as they entered the city, and even paraded down the city's main street past UN peacekeepers who gave up the fight.

Goma, a town of about 400,000 people and another equal number of refugees, lies directly on the Rwandan border.

The Telegraph reported that the fighting over Goma did not end in a massacre as some feared.

Instead, opposition to the M23 rebels from UN peacekeepers and the Congolese army melted away in the late morning allowing rebels to enter the city and take control.

The capture of Goma was seven months in the making and has forced about half a million to flee the city and its environs, said the Washington Post.

Goma was previously held by rebels during Congo's civil war between 1998 and 2003.

More from GlobalPost: Congo rebellion threatens regional war

The rebels took up arms in April 2012, and named themselves M23 after a failed peace deal signed on March 23, 2009.

Rwanda has denied persistent accusations that it backs the M23, which is largely made up of ethnic Tutsis. Last month a leaked UN report said that Rwanda is commanding the rebellion.

On Monday, Rwanda accused the DRC of shelling its territory.

GlobalPost's correspondent Tristan McConnell reports that the M23 rebellion is threatening to escalate into a regional war.

The uprising is led by Bosco Ntaganda, a renegade Congolese general known as "The Terminator" who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

This is the first time since the DRC war ended in 2003 that rebels have entered Goma, which is a hub for aid and business in the country's resource-rich east.

More from GlobalPost: UN to sanction M23 rebels in the eastern Congo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/121120/m23-rebels-enter-city-goma-eastern-democratic-republic-congo