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Cablegate: Goma Situation Report for December 12, 2007

VZCZCXRO1196
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1362 3471653
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131653Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7234
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001362

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM MOPS PREL PREF KPKO CG
SUBJECT: Goma Situation Report for December 12, 2007

SENSTIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

Note: The following report was provided by Embassy Kinshasa's
political officer in Goma. End note.

1. (SBU) Summary: In the course of December 11, FARDC abandoned
its remaining positions west of Sake, leaving MONUC to defend the
town. Nkunda's commanders communicated to MONUC Brigade Commander
General Narayan that they would not enter Sake, but not before the
nearby fighting had caused a movement of the populace eastward and
considerable concern in the city of Goma. Journalists were caught
overnight in Minova (just within South Kivu, on the lake), where
they interviewed persons who had fled Nkunda's capture of Karuba and
bore witness to pillage and terror. End Summary.

2. (SBU) According to MONUC military and political officers,
speaking to Goma poloff December 12, renegade General Laurent
Nkunda's forces attacked the strategic Celtel ridge northwest of
Sake beginning at 14:45 December 11 and completed its capture by
17:30. By 20:00 they had also captured the Celtel tower itself, on
a prominence nearer to and dominating Sake, by which time FARDC had
abandoned all of its positions in Sake, leaving its defense to
MONUC. The FARDC three brigades involved in the campaign at Mushaki
had "dispersed in every direction." MONUC North Kivu Brigade
Commander General Indrajeet Narayan was in Sake during the evening
of December 11 and again in the morning December 12. He spoke to
Nkunda's commanders, informing them that Sake was an absolute red
line, and they assured him that they would not attempt to take Sake.
MONUC made a show of force with its combat helicopters but did not
fire any shots. MONUC concluded that there had been a complete lack
of leadership at the highest levels of FARDC, including 8th Region
commander General Vainqueur Mayala, during recent days.

3. (SBU) There was a movement of the Sake populace eastward (a "sea
of humanity," according to military briefer). MONUC political
briefer suggested that as many as 20,000 persons had been displaced
eastward from Sake, with a possible 70-80,000 persons displaced in
recent days over the entire area of fighting. However, OCHA reports
that the nearby IDP camps at Mugunga have not seen an infusion of
new IDP's, suggesting that the Sake populace did not move far toward
Goma.

4. (SBU) The extent of Nkunda's capture of arms and ammunition over
the past two days remains unclear. FARDC denies significant losses,
while MONUC thinks it highly probable that Nkunda captured important
caches of arms both in Mushaki and Kingi, and possibly in Karuba.
(Belgian Consul General claims good information on capture of arms
at Karuba.) MONUC could not confirm reports that Nkunda's forces
had now reached as far as Ngungu (15 miles southwest of Sake).

5. (SBU) Military and political briefers indicated that an exchange
of fire was ongoing during the morning of December 12 at Rubari (a
strategic point near the watershed divide on the Goma-Rutshuru
axis). It did not yet appear to more than a skirmish. Meanwhile,
the picture to the north of Kitchanga was unclear. Poloff related
that provincial deputy Simon Kazungu had told him December 12 that
FARDC had taken Mweso, 10 miles north of Nkunda's "capital" at
Kitchanga. Military briefer acknowledged that FARDC's 15th
Integrated Brigade (which had disintegrated the previous week when
Nkunda attacked Nyanzale) had now been reconstituted and was active
in the area; however, there was incessant fighting betwee
FDLR/Pareco forces and Nkunda troops in the area, which might
account for what might be mere rumor.

6. (SBU) AFP informed poloff on the evening of December 11 that
several journalists were holed up in Minova (on Lake Kivu just
inside the South Kivu border), where many persons had fled from
Nkunda's capture of Karuba. They gave the journalists first-hand
accounts of brutality, to include shooting civilians as they were
fleeing and random shooting into houses. MONUC Public Information
officer Sylvie van den Wildenberg told Goma poloff December 12 that
she had advised the journalists to stay in Minova, as the land route
back through Sake was unsafe. However, Minova had also then
suffered a shoot-up, apparently at the hands of FARDC soldiers (14th
Integrated Brigade) fleeing from the fighting and bent on their own
pillage. The journalists were safe, and MONUC planned to evacuate
them by boat in the course of the day.

7. (SBU) Van den Wildenberg said that she had been working round
the clock to cope with popular alarm in Goma. Governor Julien
Paluku of North Kivu had been in a state of "panic" but she had got
him to participate in a radio broadcast at opening of day December
12 to reassure the populace ("setback not defeat, MONUC has
situation in hand").

Garvelink

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