People flee as fighting erupts between the M23 rebels and Congolese army near the airport at Goma, Congo, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Rebels believed to be backed by Rwanda fired mortars and machine guns Monday in a village on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Goma and threatened to attack the city which is protected by ragtag Congolese government troops backed by United Nations peacekeepers. The gunfire and explosions erupted in the early afternoon, hours after the M23 rebels said they were halting fighting in order to negotiate with the government of Congo. (AP Photo/Melanie Gouby)
GOMA, Congo (AP) — Rebels believed to be backed by Rwanda fired mortars and machine guns Monday on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Goma, threatening to capture one of the largest cities in eastern Congo in a development that could drag this giant Central African nation back into war.
The gunfire and explosions erupted in the early afternoon, with shells landing as far away as the international airport and near a United Nations position, causing flights to be rerouted and prompting the United Nations to evacuate most of its employees, according to U.N. officials.
The violence erupted just hours after the M23 rebels said they were halting fighting to negotiate with the government of Congo. But government spokesman Lambert Mende told The Associated Press by phone that negotiations are out of the question, saying Congo will not give in to the “blackmail” of a Rwandan-backed group.
“We refuse to enter into negotiations with M23. Because it’s Rwanda, not the M23, that is responsible,” said Mende. “If Goma falls, it’s going to create a whole other set of Login to read more