News24

DRC rebels pull back from hills around Sake

2012-11-30 15:44

Sake - Hundreds of rebels were withdrawing on Friday from hills overlooking Sake, a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo they seized last week and have promised to leave under a regionally brokered deal, an AFP photographer said.

Under the deal, the M23 rebels are supposed to withdraw from Sake and nearby Goma, the main city in DRC's volatile, mineral-rich east.

The rebels, army mutineers who seized the towns in a lightning advance last week, were coming down the steep hillsides on dusty paths carrying packs and crates of ammunition before regrouping on the main road through town.

The rebels' promised pull-back on Thursday showed little sign of materialising with the United Nations reporting that there were still no major signs of M23 fighters withdrawing.

Under the pullout deal, the rebels are supposed to withdraw from Sake on Friday and continue pulling back to the same position they held before their gains last week – 20km outside Goma, which lies 30km to the east of Sake.

The rebels' campaign has raised fears of a humanitarian catastrophe and wider conflict erupting from DRC's east, the cradle of back-to-back wars that shook the country and drew in much of the region from 1996 to 2003.