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M23 rebels seize villages in Democratic Republic of Congo

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M23 rebels have seized several villages in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following clashes with government forces in the Rutshuru region, according to local sources.

Heavy fighting has broken out near Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with mountain gorillas, according to a local source.

The source added that heavy fighting broke out between government forces and M23 fighters in Matebe in Rutshuru province in North Kivu province, where the rebels have taken control of several villages.

The villages include Gasiza, Bugusa, Bikende-Bugusa, Kinyamahura, Rwambeho, Tshengerero, Rubavu and Basare “and still hold Runyoni and Tchanzu,” said Nestor Bazirake, spokesman for the Jomba Village Association.

Many people have fled Uganda

Bunagana and Ruwanguba bridges are being held by government forces, according to the French news agency AFP, but locals have already fled to Uganda or other areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.