"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


congo watch: a bad day for goma

Well. I think it's safe to classify today as a Bad Day for Goma. Here's a quick recap of weekend events:
  • Nkunda's forces recaptured the Rumangabo army camp on Sunday. This is a major base for the Congolese army. It's the same base that Nkunda captured two weeks ago, then handed back to the army at the request of the MONUC peacekeepers.
  • They also captured the headquarters of Virunga National Park. Which just happens to be stocked with the radios, weapons, and uniforms the park rangers need to do their jobs of protecting the wildlife in the park.
  • Government troops are in retreat towards Goma, which is south of Rumangabo.
  • Rebels fired rockets at peacekeepers in Kalengara, which is close to Rumangabo, on Sunday.
  • Those peacekeepers were protecting the thousands of civilians who are fleeing towards Goma.
  • MONUC wants the military base returned again. And they are losing patience with rebels who fire on peacekeepers who are protecting civilians.
  • The MONUC compound in Goma is under attack from hundreds of protesters who are angry that the peacekeepers haven't been able to better protect civilians.
  • Nkunda's men are headed for Goma. They attacked Kibumba, which is 12 miles out of Goma and houses a major refugee camp, today. The camp is empty; all its residents have run to Goma.
  • MONUC may go after the rebels with its helicopter gunships soon. They just have to be sure they aren't firing on government forces or civilians.
  • Nkunda's spokesman, meanwhile, says that MONUC peacekeepers may be shot at as well. "In these conditions it is difficult for the CNDP to differentiate between the troops," he told Reuters. Yeah, 'cause those blue helmets aren't distinctive at all.

I haven't heard from any of my contacts in Goma, which is a sure sign that things there are very bad. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

(Photo: AP)


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