Cablegate: Goma Report October 8: Heavy Fighting In

DE RUEHKI #0864/01 2831626
O 091626Z OCT 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report October 8: Heavy Fighting in
Rutshuru; CNDP Threatens MONUC; GDRC Remains
Concerned About Imminent Rwandan Intervention

REF: Kinshasa 843

KINSHASA 00000864 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary: Heavy fighting erupted October 8 in the Rutshuru
region. CNDP overran a FARDC brigade head-quarters near Rumangabo,
apparently inflicting heavy casualties and capturing significant
amounts of military equipment. MONUC told post that CNDP almost
certainly initiated the fighting. MONUC has lodged formal
complaints with the FARDC regarding the following: FARDC forces are
actively inciting and even participating in anti-MONUC
demonstrations along the Rutshuru corridor, thus hindering MONUC
movements; in certain areas, FARDC has moved its troops next to
MONUC positions, thus bringing MONUC into crossfire; and FARDC has
initiated operations with attack helicopters without coordinating
with MONUC. CNDP's Major Castro told Goma PolOff and MONUC Kinshasa
that the CNDP might attack a MONUC base near Bunagana (outside of a
FARDC-CNDP battle zone) should MONUC prevent CNDP troop movements to
Rumangabo. FARDC, with MONUC logistical support, is preparing for
operations against Ituri rebel groups. MONUC believes that a
heretofore unknown Ituri group, the Union for Congolese Revolution
(URC - Union pour la Revolution Congolaise), may be a CNDP creation,
perhaps with support from Uganda. End Summary.

Heavy Fighting in Rutshuru Region

2. (SBU) Heavy fighting between FARDC and CNDP erupted October 8
along the Rutshuru corridor. Confrontations began early morning in
the vicinities of Ntamagenga and east of Rumangabo. Both sides
accused the other of starting the fighting. MONUC's Deputy Director
of Political Affairs, Christian Manahl, while briefing P3+2
Political Counselors, said that CNDP almost certainly initiated the

3. (SBU) By 9:00 am, FARDC had employed two attack helicopters,
which fired rockets at CNDP positions near Rumangabo. FARDC also
used mortars, and tanks were observed moving north towards Rugari,
though it is unclear if FARDC used them. By 10:30, the fighting
near Rumangabo had stopped, while there was sporadic gunfire through
the afternoon near Ntamagenga. When the dust had settled, CNDP had
overrun the FARDC's 2nd Integrated Brigade headquarters two
kilometers east of Rumangabo. In Ntamagenga, MONUC forces had
evacuated the area, which FARDC then reoccupied. Manahl said that
CNDP had inflicted heavy casualties and had captured considerable
military equipment at Rumangabo.

4. (SBU) Acting Chief of MONUC's Force Headquarters, Lt. Colonel
McNight, announced that MONUC would present FARDC with three formal
complaints. First, FARDC apparently incited the local population to
demonstrate against MONUC, with FARDC elements even actively
participating in the demonstrations. This hindered MONUC efforts to
deploy from Rutshuru to Rumangabo to confront the CNDP. Some 2,000
FARDC soldiers and their families, who were fleeing north towards
Rutshuru, reportedly instigated the incitement.

5. (SBU) MONUC's second complaint was the FARDC's decision -
previously taken in Kimoka and near Himbi Heights - to place its
units in Ntamagenga directly next to MONUC elements, while engaging
CNDP. A Uruguayan unit was therefore caught in crossfire and forced
to evacuate the area, which the FARDC subsequently reoccupied. At
least one Uruguayan vehicle caught fire after sustaining gunfire.

6. (SBU) The final complaint was the FARDC's decision to use attack
helicopters without coordinating with MONUC. Manahl told PolCouns
that a FARDC helicopter almost mistakenly attacked a MONUC position.
MONUC had canceled an operation to send one of its Mi-24's to
support the FARDC withdrawal because FARDC was already flying in the
area. MONUC also canceled a mission to send attack helicopters to
Walikale in support of Operation Kimia, as the helicopters might
have been needed along the Rutshuru corridor.

7. (SBU) CNDP's Major Castro contacted Goma PolOff to explain that
the CNDP actions near Rumangabo were in response to FARDC attacks in
the area. Castro conceded that the CNDP might consider attacking
the MONUC base at Chengerero near Bunagana, in the event MONUC
forces blocked CNDP forces from advancing to Rumangabo. PolOff
warned Castro that such an action would have serious consequences.
Manahl told PolCouns that he had told Castro that such an attack,
outside of a FARDC-CNDP battle zone, would be extremely provocative,
almost certainly resulting in a robust MONUC response.

8. (SBU) In a separate incident on October 8, the FARDC's 14th
Integrated Brigade and the Mai Mai Cobra Brigade engaged in a brief
firefight near Bweremana between Sake and Minova. The FARDC was
conducting a sensitization campaign on disengagement when a scuffle

KINSHASA 00000864 002.2 OF 002

broke out, which escalated into a firefight. Three Mai Mai were
reportedly killed. Strangely, the situation ended when
approximately 375 Mai Mai combatants surrendered. They are being
held in Minova awaiting transfer to a brassage center. MONUC was
unclear why the situation escalated or why the FARDC was conducting
a disengagement sensitization campaign independent of MONUC.

FARDC Prepares for Operations in Ituri

9. (SBU) In southern Ituri, preparations for FARDC operations
against the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI-Forces de
Resistance Patriotique d'Ituri) are underway. Efforts consist of
securing the main supply route (MSR) southwest from Bunia into the
projected area of operations. During fighting last week, the FARDC
lost some 60,000 rounds of ammunition and an unspecified number of
weapons. MONUC was now providing security and logistical support
along the MSR. However, coordination amongst the Bangladeshi,
Guatemalan, Pakistani, and Nepalese units was proving difficult.
There was no immediate timeline for beginning the FARDC operations
in the area.

10. (SBU) In Kinshasa, Manahl said that MONUC remains concerned
about renewed instability in Ituri, particularly because MONUC and
the FARDC have reduced their presence in the province to support
operations in North Kivu. MONUC recently received a declaration
from a heretofore unknown Ituri rebel group, the Union for Congolese
Revolution (URC - Union pour la Revolution Congolaise), announcing
its establishment. Manahl opined that the same people were probably
associated with this group, the FRPI, and its purported successor,
the Popular Front for Justice in Congo (FPJC - "Front Populaire pour
la Justice au Congo")(reftel).

11. (SBU) According to MONUC officials, there are strong
indications that the CNDP may be behind the URC. MONUC has
ascertained that the URC document, which MONUC received, was sent
from North Kivu from an individual believed to have ties with the
CNDP. There are also rumors that Uganda may be backing the URC,
perhaps to irritate Kinshasa because of the two countries' oil
exploration dispute in Lake Albert.


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