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Cablegate: Goma Situation Report - Continuing Crisis

VZCZCXRO6700
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0940/01 3021405
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281405Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8685
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000940

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM MOPS PREF KPKO CG
SUBJECT: GOMA SITUATION REPORT - CONTINUING CRISIS

REF: KINSHASA 931

1. (SBU) Summary: As of the morning of October 28, MONUC's no
movement order was still in effect. Violent demonstrations started
late in the morning of October 27 between the town center and the
Goma airport, resulting in one civilian death outside of a MONUC
transit camp, when a soldier from the Malawian contingent opened
fire in accordance with MONUC rules of engagement. As of the
morning of October 28, the situation is mostly quiet in Goma.
However, MONUC reported that there was a brief incident of stone
throwing around 6:15am and they expect more riots later in the day.
Goma poloff received a text message on October 28 from a CNDP
contact, warning that the CNDP had infiltrated Goma and warning Alan
Doss to stay away; MONUC later reported that Doss cancelled his
planned trip to Goma. This contact confirmed in a subsequent
conversation that the CNDP wanted to take Goma.

2. (SBU) Summary continued: On October 26 the CNDP seized the town
of Rumangabo, thereby controlling the road from Goma to Rutschuru,
which puts them in a position to block humanitarian and commercial
traffic. Fighting resumed on October 27, this time mostly centered
around Kibumba, south of Rumangabo. The fighting around Kibumba has
caused massive civilian displacement towards Goma. Kibumba is the
location of a large IDP camp of 15,000-20,000 people who have now
vacated the camp and moved south. The GDRC has blocked their
entrance into Goma itself, fearing this could cause mass panic in
town. MONUC has reported that there will be operations (not
negotiations) over the next two days or longer to reopen the
Rumangabo-Kibumba axis. There is a firm MONUC position that no one
will move past this point. End summary

Goma Tense
----------

3. (SBU) As of the morning of October 28, MONUC's no movement order
was still in effect. Demonstrations started late in the morning of
October 27 between the town center and the Goma airport. The
majority of the demonstrators gathered around the MONUC North Kivu
Brigade headquarters, which is in northern Goma directly across from
the airport. Agitators threw stones over the wall into the compound
and caused damage to a few vehicles. They did not manage to gain
access to the compound. Indian soldiers fired warning shots into
the air but MONUC reported no casualties from this exchange. MONUC
political affairs subsequently allowed some representatives from
civil society organizations to enter the compound for a discussion,
which seemed to calm the situation.

4. (SBU) Meanwhile, some of the demonstrators (no more than 200)
had moved about 500 meters south to a MONUC transit camp staffed by
a Malawian contingent. Again the compound was attacked with stones
and some of the agitators managed to gain access to the camp. In
accordance with MONUC rules of engagement, the Malawian contingent
opened fire and killed one young man.

5. (SBU) As of the morning of October 28, the situation is mostly
quiet in Goma. However, MONUC reported that there was a brief
incident of stone throwing around 6:15am and they expect more riots
later in the day.

6. (SBU) Goma Poloff received a text message early on October 28
from Benjamin Bonimpa, deputy external relations chief for the CNDP,
warning that the CNDP had infiltrated Goma and warning SRSG Alan
Doss to stay away. Bonimpa said he was hopeful that MONUC would
"facilitate the taking of Goma," which meant simply stand aside when
the CNDP came into town, which it would soon do. Bonimpa confirmed
that the CNDP wanted to take Goma, that certain CNDP elements were
already in town, and that they had captured heavy weapons (probably
rocket launchers) at Rumangabo. He also said he would not want
anything to happen to Doss when he came to Goma; MONUC subsequently
reported that Doss canceled his trip.

Fighting in Rutshuru
--------------------

7. (SBU) On October 26 at 5:00am the CNDP conducted what it called
a preemptive strike on Rugari and Rumangabo based on intelligence
that the FARDC was planning to mount an operation against Tongo
(Note: MONUC subsequently reported that there was no fighting around
or takeover of Tongo. End note). The intelligence was in the form
of an intercepted letter from FARDC Colonel Delphin to MONUC in
which he stated these intentions (reftel).

8. (SBU) By 7:30am the Rumangabo military base and the town itself
had fallen to the CNDP. This caused considerable displacement to
the north towards the town of Rutshuru but exact numbers are not
known as this area is cut off from Goma. From Rumangabo, the CNDP

KINSHASA 00000940 002 OF 002


controls the Goma-Rutshuru road, enabling it to block commercial and
humanitarian traffic. MONUC responded from Rutshuru and Kibumba
with armored personnel carriers, two of which were allegedly
disabled by the CNDP. MONUC returned fire with approximately 147
rounds of 30mm main gun ammunition. There is currently no
information on casualties. The CNDP continues to hold Rumangabo,
while the FARDC remains in control of Rugari.

9. (SBU) Fighting resumed on October 27, this time mostly centered
around Kibumba, south of Rumangabo. The attacks against Kibumba have
come from the east, just a few kilometers from the border with
Rwanda, causing a flurry of rumors regarding Rwandan support. MONUC
did not engage the CNDP on October 27, though Mi-24 attack
helicopters were deployed. At one point MONUC intended to use the
helicopters but ultimately refrained from doing so as civilian
collateral damage would have been considerable. MONUC believes,
however, that the FARDC did use their helicopters October 27
somewhere east of Rumangabo.

IDP's
-----

10. (SBU) The fighting around Kibumba has caused massive
displacement towards Goma. Kibumba is the location of a large IDP
camp of 15,000-20,000 people who have now vacated the camp and moved
south. The GDRC has blocked their entrance into Goma itself,
fearing this could cause mass panic in town. Most of the IDPs have
thus gathered around the camp of Kibati. Humanitarian organizations
such as UNHCR and UNICEF are trying to mobilize support there. The
Kibati camp is relatively new and has an additional capacity of
10,000. However, the arrival of over 20,000 IDP's will stretch the
humanitarians' resources. UNHCR, for example, is flying in shelter
materials from Tanzania and possibly South Africa. Also, with the
no movement order in place, it is difficult for UN agencies to leave
Goma. Some NGOs, such as MSF, are reportedly pulling out of
Rutshuru.

Current Situation
-----------------

11. (SBU) Currently, the FARDC and MONUC hold Kalengera, Rugari,
and Kibumba, the latter with a battalion of FARDC soldiers and a
company of MONUC peacekeepers including seven armored personnel
carriers. Kibumba is essentially the first line of defense between
the CNDP and Goma. The CNDP holds Rumangabo. MONUC's intent is to
push the CNDP away from Kibumba to allow IDP's to return to the
camp. MONUC also reported that there will be operations (not
negotiations) over the next two days or longer to reopen the
Rumangabo-Kibumba axis. There is a firm MONUC position that no one
will move past this point. If the CNDP does not want to leave
Rumangabo, MONUC will find itself embroiled in close quarters combat
with them.

12. Comment: (SBU) Since the outbreak of hostilities on August 28,
this is likely the most tense situation Goma has experienced. It is
unlikely the CNDP would dare to enter Goma, though they are
certainly as close now as they were during the September fighting in
Sake. The CNDP intent is hard to ascertain, although creating the
conditions to resupply their western territory is a likely
explanation. It is also widely believed that the CNDP might try to
cause massive displacement into Goma to destabilize the situation in
town. End comment.

BROCK

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