KINSHASA: Thousands of people are fleeing violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as fighting intensifies between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group.
Fighters reportedly surrounded the strategic town of Sake on Wednesday, a crucial step before reaching Goma, the capital of North Kivu.
The Congolese army and United Nations peacekeepers have been struggling to contain M23’s advance. And as fighting continues, thousands of those who fled Sake have arrived in Bulengo, about 10km (six miles) west of Goma.
Thousands are “on the road right now”, trying to escape the violence and get to Goma, Al Jazeera’s Alain Uaykani said, reporting from Bulengo on Wednesday.
“They have been fighting for a week right now, but this morning, again, rebels have tried to take over the main city,” he explained.
It remains unclear whether the army or the rebels are now controlling the area, Uaykani added.
Mwanwhile, the US has called for dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and armed groups as the M23 rebels.
The US State Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller on Tuesday said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has talked to former Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta about establishing a pathway to reconciliation with armed groups.
“Blinken spoke with former Kenyan president Kenyatta about the conflict in Eastern DRC and the importance of providing a pathway to reconciliation with armed groups. The Nairobi process and the assistance of regional leaders are vital to resolving the conflict,” Miller posted on his X, formerly Twitter, handle.