Cablegate: Goma Report September 5: Cndp Captures Katsiru

DE RUEHKI #0734/01 2520729
R 080729Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report September 5: CNDP Captures Katsiru

1. (SBU) Summary: CNDP launched a three-pronged attack at dawn
September 5 and drove FARDC out of Katsiru. The International
Facilitation team has urged FARDC and CNDP to begin urgent military
talks to get forces back to positions held two weeks ago. CNDP
insists on such talks taking place at Kimoka, turning down proposal
to be helicoptered to the MONUC-controlled airport for talks, while
FARDC refuses Kimoka. End Summary.

2. (SBU) After a series of skirmishes in the Rutshuru area
beginning August 28, responsibility for which was mixed, CNDP on
September 5 staged a three-pronged attack on FARDC positions in a
different theater: the JTN-Katsiru area north of Kitchanga. North
Kivu brigade assesses clear responsibility is with CNDP, in the
larger context of skirmishes since August 28, during which there
were numerous provocations by FARDC. It is evident that CNDP's
preparations for attacks on FARDC positions in and around Katsiru
were well underway at the time of U.S. discussions with CNDP held in
Kirolirwe the previous day, September 4, when senior CNDP political
and military officials promised that CNDP would seek to reduce
tensions and return to the disengagement working groups.

3. (SBU) The day opened with a report from 8th military region
deputy commander Colonel Delphin, passed to Eastern Coordinator
Alpha Sow, that CNDP forces had launched a dawn attack on FARDC
positions east of CNDP-held Mweso; that FARDC had withstood the
first attack, but that CNDP was launching further attacks. Given a
series of outlandish claims by Col. Delphin over the past eight
days, the facilitation team tended to discount this newest report.
North Kivu brigade commander Brigadier General Rawat invited Col.
Delphin on a helicopter tour of the area. Within a few hours it had
become clear that Col. Delphin's claim was largely correct. The
brigade sent out patrols from its bases at both Katsiru (then
FARDC-controlled) and from Kitchanga (CNDP center). In a pattern
that has become familiar in the Rutshuru sector, the patrol sent out
from Katsiru was immediately blocked by the local stone-throwing
populace (perhaps instigated by FARDC), but the patrol from
Kitchanga got through to the area of fighting. North Kivu brigade
determined that CNDP had launched three platoon-level attacks prior
to 6:00 am to the northwest and northeast of Katsiru, crossing the
informal "buffer zone" through and north of the JTN tea plantation.
FARDC withdrew to the north eight kms. to Kihindo, near the FARDC
base at Nyanzale, suffering casualties (number undetermined) who
were evacuated by the North Kivu brigade. The exchange of fire
largely ceased by 13:30.

4. (SBU) North Kivu brigade had more than the usual difficulties
reaching CNDP telephonically. Poloff and Deputy Eastern Coordinator
M'hand Ladjouzi separately reached CNDP Goma representative
(residing in CNDP-held territory near Kimoka since August 28)
Bertrand Bisimwa, who said that the CNDP had detected a significant
build-up of FARDC forces north of Kitchanga and elsewhere and
decided to react. He said that CNDP was also outraged that, he
claimed, the 8th region commander had ordered that cellular contact
with the CNDP area around Kitchaga and Kirolirwe be cut September 4.
He said CNDP would be willing to have discussions with FARDC on
ways to reduce tensions (not, he said, on the larger issues of
disengagement), but only at Kimoka. (Note: MONUC has built a
negotiating facility at Kimoka, at the edge of the area of CNDP
control north of Sake, but the CNDP has not withdrawn four kms.
north of the facility as it had agreed to do, and the government has
refused to attend any discussions there.)

5. (SBU) The facilitation team met on the afternoon of September 5
and agreed that both sides needed to be pressed urgently to pursue
talks to reduce tensions and get back to positions held prior to
August 28. It was hoped, given the government's objections to
Kimoka, that CNDP might accept having a military team helicoptered
for talks at the MONUC-controlled air terminal in Goma, probably the
most secure place in the Kivus.

6. (SBU) Subsequently, the team met with General Etumba,
accompanied by 8th region commander General Mayala, Col. Delphin,
and a host of other FARDC officers. MONUC's Eastern Division deputy
commander Col James Cunliffe and North Kivu commander General Rawat
reviewed the day's events around Katsiru. Col. Delphin took issue
with their low assessment of the number of the forces employed by
CNDP (a few platoons), saying that CNDP had attacked with three
battalions (albeit small battalions of only 300 men each, maximum).
Characteristically, Col. Delphin shared lurid raw intelligence
suggesting that CNDP was hatching a plan to attack northward as far
as Butembo. He said that FARDC had known for five days that CNDP
was moving two-thirds of its forces located in its southwestern area
of control (Ngungu to Kingi) north to Kitchanga and, as it had
earlier communicated to the facilitation team, had supposed that

KINSHASA 00000734 002 OF 002

CNDP's intention was to send these forces east to attack the
Rutshuru corridor via Tongo. Instead, they had attacked northward
at Katsiru.

7. (SBU) The facilitation team proposed to General Etumba that
military talks be undertaken at once with CNDP to cease hostilities
and remove forces to where they had been two weeks earlier. Etumba
said he was amenable to such talks, so long as they did not open up
a framework outside the Goma/Amani peace process. Mayala said he
was ready to go. The team said it hoped that the location of such
talks would not be an impediment, noting that the CNDP sought to
have them at Kimoka. Several FARDC officers spoke up in adamant
opposition to the idea of Kimoka as venue. The team then proposed
that talks be held at the MONUC-controlled airport. FARDC accepted.
Etumba said it was high time for the international community to
condemn CNDP's aggression in the clearest terms.

8. (SBU) However, several evening conversations with CNDP's Bisimwa
produced no forward movement from CNDP: CNDP, he said, would not
yield on its insistence on talks at Kimoka, or alternatively Addis
Ababa or Nairobi.


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