Kinshasa (AFP) - Rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo seized control Sunday of more towns in the country's east, but said they would cede most of their gains to UN peacekeepers and police.
"We have seized Rubare, Rutshuru, Kalengera and Kako," said rebel leader Colonel Sultani Makenga at Bunagana, the border post with Uganda.
"Even though we have taken these districts, we will withdraw and leave them to MONUSCO and national police," added Makenga, who was wearing a regular army uniform with a pistol at his hip, surrounded by around 30 well-armed bodyguards.
Known as M23, the rebels are mutinous Tutsi troops who abandoned the regular army earlier this year in a dispute over pay and conditions.
They said they took the Nord-Kivu province towns of Rutshuru, Ntamugenga and Rubare, less than 10 kilometres by road from the provincial capital Goma, shortly after midnight.
According to M23 spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vianney Kazarama, the rebels faced no opposition from the Congolese army, known as the FARDC.