‘Bomb’ hits DRCongo airport as fighting flares in restive eastSat, 17 Feb 2024 09:53:06 GMT

A bomb struck the airport in the restive eastern DR Congo city of Goma early Saturday as fighting flared between rebels and government forces, security and government sources told AFP.Clashes have intensified in recent days around the strategic town of Sake, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Goma, between the M23 rebel group — which Kinshasa says is backed by neighbouring Rwanda — and Congolese government forces.”Yes, it’s true, Goma airport was hit by a bomb last night,” a source in the governorate of North Kivu province said, asking not to be named.A security source spoke of “two bombs” at the facility in Goma, the North Kivu capital and home to one million people, adding that they “caused no damage”.”Two experts are on site to check where the bombs were fired from,” the source said.An AFP correspondent and Goma residents reported hearing two loud explosions.The UN Security Council voiced concern this week at “escalating violence” in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, condemning an offensive launched by the mostly-Tutsi M23 rebels near Goma.The DRC, the UN and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting the rebels in a bid to control vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies.The rebels have conquered vast swathes of North Kivu in the last two years.The latest fight has pushed tens of thousands of civilians to flee towards Goma, which stands between Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border and is practically cut off from the country’s interior.According to a confidential UN document seen by AFP earlier this week, the Rwandan army is using sophisticated weapons such as surface-to-air missiles to support M23.A “suspected Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM)” was fired at a UN observation drone last Wednesday without hitting it, the report said.UN forces have been in DRC for nearly 25 years, but stand accused of failing to protect civilians from armed groups.The UN Security Council voted in December to accede to Kinshasa’s demand for a pullout despite the volatile situation.With multiple diplomatic efforts failing to quell the violence in the Congo, African leaders meeting for a summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa discussed the DRC situation on the sidelines late Friday and were due to convene again on Saturday.