Drunk soldiers blamed for DRC shoot-out

2012-10-29 22:30
M23 rebel fighters. (Jerome Delay, AP)

M23 rebel fighters. (Jerome Delay, AP)

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Goma - Heavy arms fire that claimed four lives overnight in the eastern Democratic republic of Congo was an accident partly caused by "drunken soldiers", the army said on Monday.

The shooting broke out around Sake, about 27km from Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province, and was caused by confusion among military units, an army officer said, asking not to be named.

"It was undisciplined drunken soldiers coming back from the bar. Their colleagues thought they were unknown people and opened fire," the officer told AFP.

"Those who were drunk shot back, to such a point that the FARDC [Congolese army] believed they were under attack from M23 [rebels)] The death toll is three civilians and one soldier killed," the officer added, refusing to give further details.

The March 23 movement [M23] was founded in May by army deserters who were once part of a rebel force in the eastern Kivu provinces. Its positions lie about 20km from Goma.

In a statement published on Monday, the Civil Society of Nord-Kivu (SCNK) group said that four people had been killed, but stated that all were civilians, while 11 had been "seriously hurt".

The SNCK added that shells "completely destroyed five houses and private vehicles. Some say that unpaid soldiers rose up to express their discontent, while others state that there has been infiltration by M23 in the army."

Early in August, the United Nations urged M23 to stop advancing on Goma and since then, a relative calm has prevailed in the region.

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