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Fierce fighting rages in eastern DR Congo

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Congolese boy stands next to a United Nations vehicle burned during a ambush in the eastern town of Beni on May 5, 2015. (AFP photo)

Fierce fighting rages between UN peacekeepers and Ugandan rebels in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The violent clashes erupted after peacekeepers tracked down the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) rebels in the troubled region early on Tuesday.

General Jean Baillaud, acting commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), said the UN forces attacked the rebels' positions at dawn using combat helicopters.

This comes a day after a series of clashes between rebels and soldiers in a town in eastern Congo killed at least 30 people. The violent battle involved Congolese army and UN forces combating Ugandan rebels in North Kivu’s town of Eringeti.

An AFP file photo taken on March 11, 2014 shows Democratic Republic of Congo government troops working in an area taken from rebels, near Tongo, some 45 km north of Goma.

The ADF-NALU was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to Congo. It has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.

ADF-NALU and dozens of other armed groups have been active in eastern Congo since the 1996-2003 Congo wars.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and has left over 5.5 million people dead.

The body of a man killed lies on the ground in the village of Kiddie, some 12 kilometres from Beni, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on February 4, 2015. (AFP photo)

The rebels are also accused of carrying out attacks in DR Congo and committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape. 

The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo has a unique mandate to take military action against rebel groups that have plagued the vast region since the Rwanda genocide two decades ago.

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