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Cablegate: September 16 Spot Report: Fighting Near

VZCZCXRO4074
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0770 2601637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161637Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8441
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000770

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KPKO PHUM PREF CG
SUBJECT: SEPTEMBER 16 SPOT REPORT: FIGHTING NEAR
KIROTSHE; THREE CIVILIANS DIE IN ACCIDENT
WITH MONUC ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER

REF: KINSHASA 769

1. (SBU) Summary: Fighting near Kirotshe September 16 is worse
than first indicated, with FARDC bringing in tanks. It is not clear
if FARDC is planning to go on offensive just when MONUC had
presented plan for separation of forces. Meanwhile, a MONUC armored
personnel carrier overturned north of Goma, killing three civilians
and leading to the stoning of the MONUC convoy. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Further to this morning's (September 16) read-out
(reftel), it appears that fighting between CNDP and FARDC around
Kirotshe and in the hills east of Kirotshe/Minova is widespread. In
the course of the morning, exchange of fire was noted in Bitonga
(southeast of Ngungu), Bishangwa, well south of Ngungu in South
Kivu), and Murambi (south of Ngungu), as well as continued fighting
around Ngungu involving PARECO. The first three are in a swathe of
territory which is not considered a "traditional" CNDP-controlled
area, but it is unclear to MONUC at present how much of it was in
fact under CNDP control on August 28. MONUC's new plan for
separation of forces would exclude CNDP entirely from the area.

3. (SBU) North Kivu brigade near Sake at 13:55 observed FARDC
bringing in four armored personnel carriers, five tanks, and one
multi-barreled rocket launcher, headed for Kirotshe. Deputy Chief
of Staff Col Cunliffe described the situation in the whole
Ngungu-Numbi-Minova-Kirtoshe area as highly confused. It is possible
that CNDP elements have been attacking, but it is possible that they
were continuing the process of withdrawing back toward the Ngungu
area (where there has also been persistent fighting between PARECO
and CNDP), or both. FARDC's actions through the morning similarly
could have been interpreted as defensive, but FARDC's bringing into
the Kirotshe area of heavy armaments suggests an offensive intent at
this juncture.

4. (SBU) President Kabila has just returned to Goma, and Kirotshe
is the home village of the First Lady. For the afternoon, MONUC has
lost contact with FARDC commanders (a loss of contact no doubt
exacerbated by the arrival of the President, whose presence absorbs
all senior personnel). At this writing (16 September 2008 3:30 pm
Goma time), the South African battalion in Kirotshe describes itself
as being in the midst of persistent firing, as FARDC is lobbing
shells into the hills from the town. The increasingly offensive
nature of FARDC actions in the Kirotshe area is, according to Col.
Cunliffe, not in keeping with the previous day's in-depth and
high-level discussions with government and FARDC on the plan
presented by MONUC for creating zones of separation in North Kivu.
General Rawat's concern is that FARDC could be planning a wider
offensive, but he has no confirmation of such a plan.

5. (SBU) Latest from CNDP (which has continued to refuse
face-to-face contact with Special Envoy van de Geer or with MONUC)
is a telephonic message from one of its mid-level political
officials, Muiti: "I believe that it is difficult to stop the
combat. FARDC is thinking of using all its means, even
non-conventional. It is displacing the population by force before
engaging in pillage."

6. (SBU) Meanwhile, at 11:00 am a North Kivu brigade armored
personnel carrier overturned just north of Goma (on the road to
Rutshuru), after brake failure, hitting a motorcycle carrying three
civilians, all of whom were killed. A crowd immediately gathered
and North Kivu brigade fired into the air to disperse the crowd. No
one was injured by the firing into the air. However, rumors quickly
spread through Goma that North Kivu brigade had fired into the crowd
and killed persons in the crowd. Shortly afterward, a MONUC convoy
moving on the western road, near the general hospital, was attacked
by a stone-throwing mob. For the time being, MONUC is ceasing
movement in the city, until tempers cool.

GARVELINK

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