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DRC takes on Islamic fighters in war-torn east

Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Islamic militants operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are no match for the nation's armed forces, a DRC government spokesman said.

DRC is struggling to ensure a sense of national security after a fragile peace deal was brokered with the rebel March 23 Movement late last year. M23 occupied parts of eastern DRC in recent years, though international rights monitors said it was one of several armed groups fighting in the region.

Lambert Mende, a spokesman for the DRC government, told the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks national forces started a campaign against the Islamic Alliance of Democratic Forces in the east of the country.

"They don't enjoy foreign support like M23 did," he said in a report published Monday. "We are going to defeat them."

Mende said all parties to the conflict are obligated to disarm under the terms of a directive issued by DRC President Joseph Kabila. If they don't, he said, armed groups are going to "face the consequences."

DRC forces helped rout M23 with the help of a U.N. peacekeeping brigade with a mandate to use force.

The Rwandan government is accused of backing M23, an allegation it denies.

IRIN reports there are concerns the Islamic militant group may pose a broader regional challenge because it's allegedly tied to al-Qaida.

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