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Cablegate: November 13 Attack On Idp Camp Near Goma

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1289/01 3240538
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200538Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7137
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001289

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR TSHORTLEY, BLEO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF MOPS KPKO CG
SUBJECT: November 13 attack on IDP camp near Goma

REF: KINSHASA 142

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

Report below was drafted by pol chief David Brown, currently on TDY
in Goma.

1. (SBU) Summary. Thousands of panicked IDPs fled three camps near
Goma November 13 after FARDC artillery deployed nearby apparently
opened fire. While the FARDC claimed pro-Nkunda CNDP forces had
attacked the camps, and Nkunda blamed the FDLR, neither MONUC nor
humanitarian organizations were able to confirm the identity of
combatants who engaged FARDC forces initially near Kishangashi, six
kilometers northwest of the camps. MONUC military officials
expressed frustration at the conduct of the FARDC, which had
deployed artillery near the camps despite repeated MONUC warnings.
Humanitarian organizations estimated almost 20,000 fled the camps,
but most had returned by the following day. Information available
at this point suggests deficient FARDC leadership and discipline.
End summary.

2. (SBU) Initial news reports on November 14 claiming Nkunda forces
had attacked IDP camps located on the Goma-Sake road and that the
FARDC had engaged in widespread looting of all five camps appear to
be incorrect, but reflect the anxiety of the thousands of panicked
IDPs who fled three of the camps. If events occurred as Goma TDY
officer was told, such reports would also suggest the willingness of
the FARDC hierarchy in North Kivu to manipulate partial information,
and would attest to the power of the vast network of rumor which
continues to prevail in Goma in the absence of any effective
communications infrastructure in the province.

3. (SBU) MONUC North Kivu Brigade Commander Gen. I. Narayan and the
brigade's chief intelligence officer Col. Sandeep Jaswel told
Embassy's TDY officer later that day that there had in fact been
some fighting in the area of Kishangashi, about six kilometers
northwest of the camps in the early morning hours of November 13.
The Indian brigade learned of the incident at about 0725, and
contacted North Kivu regional FARDC Commander Gen. Vainqueur Mayala,
his deputy Col. Delphin Kahimbi and FARDC field commanders.

4. (SBU) At this point, there was no question of any attack on IDP
camps. The FARDC commanders said an attack by Nkunda's CNDP forces
was in progress in Kishangashi. They said they had sent
reinforcements to the area, and had beaten back the attack. MONUC
ordered a company of Indian peacekeepers and APCs to Kishangashi,
and also contacted Nkunda's spokesman, who denied CNDP forces were
involved in any attack.

5. (SBU) Jaswel said that at about 0825 FARDC artillery deployed
between the refugee camps Mugunga 1 and Mugunga 2 on the north side
of the Goma-Sake road opened fire, panicking the camps' residents,
who fled in the direction of Goma. He said the brigade once again
contacted Mayala and Kahimbi as well as Governor Julien Paluku and
established joint MONUC-FARDC patrols in the area in a
confidence-building measure.

6. (SBU) Patrick Lavand'homme of OCHA told TDY officer the camp
president of Mugunga 1 reported subsequent exchanges of small-arms
fire between the FARDC 15th Integrated Brigade and unknown elements
in the surrounding hills, followed by a FARDC order to residents to
leave the camp. Lavand'homme said residents of Mugungu 2 told
similar stories of FARDC artillery and small-arms fire, but no visit
from FARDC troops or order to leave. He said residents of a third
camp, Lac Vert, one of three located on the south side of the road,
also fled, but returned following on-the-scene appeals during the
1000 hour by Paluku.

7. (SBU) Charges and counter-charges continued during the day.
Mayala told Reuters 27 had been killed; Kahimbi later denied it. A
FARDC spokesman -- likely Kahimbi -- told Agence France Presse that
CNDP forces attacked in the area of the camps in order to capture
the nearby artillery. A provincial government official told TDY
officer he had spoken that morning with Nkunda, who claimed his
forces were not involved, and blamed FDLR troops for the attack in
retaliation for alleged non-payment of funds promised by Kabila.
The same official contacted an FDLR spokesman, who denied Nkunda's
claims.

8. (SBU) Gen. Narayan expressed frustration at the entire incident.
He said he and his commanders had repeatedly warned the FARDC of the
dangers of deploying the artillery -- apparently two 105-mm guns --
between the two camps when the artillery arrived there some two

KINSHASA 00001289 002 OF 002


weeks earlier. He said Kahimbi told him the deployment was for
training purposes only. He expressed further skepticism upon
learning that ammunition was being stored with the guns.

9. (SBU) Jaswal said firing had ceased by early afternoon. He
stressed that it was the firing of the artillery that had caused the
camp residents to take to the roads. Lavand'homme said there was
looting at Mugunga 1 by both FARDC and camp residents, primarily
plastic sheeting and food. He said he had heard no reports of
looting at Mugunga 2 or any of the three camps -- Bulengo, EP Lac
Vert, Buhunba -- located on the south side of the road. In all, he
believed almost 20,000 IDPs had fled toward Goma, including all of
the Mugungu 1 residents and perhaps three-quarters of those at
Mugunga 2. On-site observations by OFDA and NGO representatives
indicate most of the camp residents had returned by the following
day.

10. (SBU) Comment. This incident suggests deficiencies in FARDC
leadership and discipline. What appears to have been command
determination to deploy artillery turned an isolated skirmish into a
potential humanitarian crisis and disordered thousands of lives
already in difficulty. Elements of the FARDC's 15th integrated
brigade compounded the problem if, as reported, they then looted one
of the camps. End comment.

BROCK

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