R ebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said on Sunday they seized the town of Rutshuru in North Kivu province after government forces abandoned it.
“We took control of the town of Rutshuru before noon and sent the (Congolese army) fleeing,” Colonel Vianney Kazarama of the M23 rebel movement told Reuters by telephone.
A German newspaper reporter with the rebels also reported they were in Rutshuru, which lies on the main road axis north from the North Kivu provincial capital Goma. The M23 rebels on Friday captured the minerals transit town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda.
A spokesman for Congo’s United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, said he had no information that the rebels had entered Rutshuru. Congolese military and government officials were not immediately available to comment.
Simone Schlindwein, Great Lakes correspondent for the German newspaper Tageszeitung, told Reuters she was in Rutshuru with the rebels.
“I’m in Rutshuru. The FARDC (Congolese army) left this morning. M23 just took over, but there was no fighting. There is shooting, but they are just firing in the air,” she said.