GOMA, Congo — Angry mobs have torched UN vehicles in the Congolese town of Goma as frustration mounts over the advance of M23 rebels and the deteriorating security situation in the east of the country.
Tuesday night’s violence came amid false rumors that the UN had transported rebels, adding to the dissatisfaction of many in eastern Congo with the efforts of a peacekeeping mission known as the of MONUSCO.
“Because of these rebels, we fled our homes in Rugari, Kibumba,” said protester Kasereka Munyafura, standing next to the burning truck. “That’s why we are angry, and we just burned MONUSCO vehicles because it makes us suffer.
Earlier on Tuesday, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo announced a “strategic and tactical withdrawal” from beleaguered Rumangabo. The M23 rebels tried to advance on the town, which hosts a military base. The mission tweeted that the decision was taken “in consultation with our partners, to better prepare the next steps together”.
The M23 rose to prominence more than a decade ago when its fighters captured Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo and located along the border with Rwanda. After a peace agreement, many M23 fighters were integrated into the national army.
The group resurfaced last November, claiming the government had failed to deliver on its ten-year promises. Over the weekend, the rebels doubled the territory they hold, taking control of two major towns.