Cablegate: Goma Update October 28-29: Goma Quiet, But
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0944/01 3031217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291217Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8691
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000944
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM MOPS PREF KPKO CG
SUBJECT: GOMA UPDATE OCTOBER 28-29: GOMA QUIET, BUT
TENSE; MONUC IMPLEMENTS "GOMA DEFENSE LINE"
1. (SBU) Summary: Fighting has resumed the morning of October 29
near Kibumba. On October 28, approximately 200 CNDP troops entered
the Virunga Forest, although it was uncertain whether they were
headed south towards Goma or west to link up with other CNDP forces
near Sake. There are conflicting reports as to whether CNDP or
MONUC occupy Rutshuru, although it is clear that FARDC forces have
fled the town. MONUC has implemented its "Goma defense line,"
designed to prevent CNDP access to the city on the main
thoroughfares. MONUC admits that, because of the terrain, it would
be impossible to prevent some nighttime CNDP infiltration into Goma.
CNDP Troop Movements
2. (SBU) As of 10:00am on October 29, the military situation was
relatively calm in North Kivu, although there has been some fighting
around Kibumba. MONUC and FARDC remain in control of the town,
which is the southernmost location where active fighting has
occurred. MONUC reported that CNDP forces managed to go around
Kibumba at one point on October 28, but MONUC helicopter gunships
stopped their advance. Fighting resumed the morning of October 29
when MONUC attack helicopters cleared CNDP positions around Kibumba,
with FARDC elements moving in to occupy the positions.
3. (SBU) There have been no further sightings of CNDP forces in the
Virunga Forest. On October 28, small groups of CNDP forces, not
larger than 30 troops each, moved into the thick forest. Total
numbers were 200. It was unclear whether these troops were moving
south or west. Southward movement could indicate the intent to
infiltrate Goma, perhaps under the guise of IDP's. Westward
movement could indicate the intent to link up with CNDP forces near
Sake. MONUC and NGO's reported that CNDP troops had built up their
numbers around Sake and north towards Katchanga.
Situation in Rutshuru Unclear
4. (SBU) There were conflicting reports on October 28 as to whether
MONUC or CNDP actually controlled Rutshuru town. The FARDC clearly
retreated from the town, supposedly after it roughed up some of the
local population and humanitarians. One contact described the
situation in Rutshuru as "hell," with NGO staff bunkered down inside
buildings with gunfire everywhere.
5. (SBU) Later on October 28, some NGO staff attempted to evacuate
to Beni in a convoy, but angry FARDC soldiers, throwing rocks at the
convoy, prevented this, forcing the convoy to return to Rutshuru.
FARDC also blocked a MONUC patrol sent to escort the NGO staff.
Currently, there appears to be both MONUC and CNDP forces in
Rutshuru in a quasi-standoff. MONUC stated that it does not have
the necessary forces to remove the CNDP from the town.
6. (SBU) In a military brief to humanitarian organizations, MONUC
advised aid workers to inform their staff outside of Goma to remain
indoors for the moment and not to attempt to evacuate to Goma or
elsewhere. MONUC noted that, in the current situation, it had to
prioritize ongoing combat operations and would not have the
resources to escort humanitarian staff.
MONUC Activates "Goma Defense Line"
7. (SBU) On October 28, MONUC activated its "Goma defense line."
This defense comprises 2-3 companies outside of Goma at Monigi
(between Goma and Kibumba), the Mugunga barrier (between Goma and
Sake), and Rosayo (between Sake and Kimoka). These positions cover
high speed avenues of approach to Goma. MONUC has transferred a
platoon from Beni to reinforce these positions, and it is seeking
additional support from around the DRC.
8. (SBU) MONUC admits that it would be impossible to stop all CNDP
infiltration into Goma from the north, as the forest spills into a
rocky lava field followed by banana plantations leading right up to
the city limits. Particularly at night, given MONUC's limited
manpower and night vision capability, CNDP could easily slip through
9. (SBU) Comment: One of MONUC's three "holy grails," the Rutshuru
town, has apparently fallen or is in real danger of falling into
CNDP hands. MONUC publicly claims it will undertake an operation to
dislodge the CNDP from Rumangabo and clear the road to Rutshuru, but
it is unclear where the necessary resources will come from. If
MONUC remains alongside CNDP forces in Rumangabo and Rutshuru, it
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risks becoming involved in an urban conflict. End comment.