Thousands flee heavy fighting between Congo army, rebels

July 24, 2012 22:02

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo - Congolese rebels and government forces traded heavy weapons fire around two eastern villages on Friday, forcing thousands of civilians to flee towards the provincial capital days ahead of a regional summit due to tackle the rebellion.

The clashes took place around Kibumba and Rugari and UN helicopter gunships were seen headed towards the frontline, but Reuters reporters said there was no sign of an imminent move on Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, some 25 km (15 miles) to the south.

A rebellion launched in April has already forced some 260,000 people to flee their homes. UN experts have said neighboring Rwanda is backing the rebels, prompting the United States, a key ally of Kigali's, to cut some military aid.

Rwanda denies it is supporting the rebels.

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