Congo rebels, military battle over eastern town

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Associated Press

Posted on November 22, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 22 at 3:33 PM

GOMA, Congo (AP) — Government troops and rebel fighters have been battling in eastern Congo.

Thousands of residents fled one town as the two sides fought for hours over its control. The M23 rebels already have captured the provincial capital of Goma and are vowing to press on toward the strategic eastern town of Bukavu (boo-KAH'-voo).

The rebels say they're intent is to overthrow President Joseph Kabila's government. But they remain some 1,000 miles from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, in a country of dense jungle and few paved roads.

Kabila this week said he's willing to talk with rebel representatives following emergency talks with the presidents of neighboring Uganda and Rwanda.

There are fears that the rebels' advance could spark a regional war. Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Uganda, have been accused of backing the rebels and of equipping them with sophisticated arms, including night vision goggles and 120 mm mortars. It is widely believed that Rwanda is interested in eastern Congo's minerals.

The U.N. children's agency says the violence in eastern Congo already has forced more than 100,000 people to flee, more than half of whom are children.

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APPHOTO XJD101: Congolese women run after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours over the eastern Congolese town of Sake , 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of Goma, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The woman in orange only identified as Mamou, said she lost her husband to a fatal wound to the head from incoming mortar round. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (22 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO XJD101 (11/22/12)>>

APPHOTO AAS101: In this Wednesday Nov. 21, 2012 photo released by Uganda's Presidential Press Services, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, center, sits with his counterparts Paul Kagame of Rwanda, left, and Joseph Kabila of Congo during a meeting in Kampala, Uganda. The three heads of the states want the M23 rebels out of Goma, a town they captured from Congo army. (AP Photo/Presidential Press Services) (21 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO AAS101 (11/21/12)>>

APPHOTO XJD106: Congolese M23 rebel soldiers are seen on the road to Rushuru near Buhumba some 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Goma, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Rebel spokesman Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama vowed Thursday that the fighters would press forward toward seizing the strategic eastern town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (22 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO XJD106 (11/22/12)>>

APPHOTO XJD107: The body of a Congolese army soldier is seen in a ditch on the road to Rushuru in Buhumba some 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Goma, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. M23 Rebel spokesman Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama vowed Thursday that the fighters would press forward toward seizing the strategic eastern town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (22 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO XJD107 (11/22/12)>>

APPHOTO XJD104: Congolese cross the deserted market as they flee after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours over the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (22 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO XJD104 (11/22/12)>>

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