Thousands Flee as Congo Rebels Seize Army Camp
Rebel soldiers under the command of renegade general Laurent Nkunda routed a government army base Sunday and fortified their position in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday.
The BBC reported that the Rumangabo camp fell for the second time today, despite military efforts to maintain control. Along with Rumangabo, Nkunda's soldiers also seized control of the headquarters of Virunga National Park, home to some of the world's last mountain gorillas, an endangered species.
Though the rebels had defeated nearly 1,500 government troops at Rumangabo three weeks ago, their victory there today was "unprecedented" and complete.
Nkunda, who was part of a peace treaty signing in January, continues to battle with government and U.N. forces in the region on the grounds of protecting the country's Tutsi minority. He has said he will not relinquish his arms until roaming Hutu rebels leave the area.
In a scene echoing that of Rwanda, over 200,000 thousand civilians fled the area. Nearly 18,000 U.N. troops are in the country to provide aid and secure peace, reported the Associated Press; however, both civilians and rebels have accused the U.N. of assisting either side and relations between all parties continue to be strained.
One U.N. soldier required two life-saving surgeries to repair his face after a rock hurled by a civilian crushed his nose. Despite the surgeries, he will be disfigured for the rest of his life, reported a U.N. spokesperson.
1.2 million people have been displaced since fighting between Nkunda, the government, and several other miscellaneous rebel parties resumed in 2007.