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November 30, 2012
Congo rebels indefinitely delay exit from Goma

GOMA, Congo (AP) -- Rebels in Congo believed to be backed by Rwanda Friday postponed indefinitely their departure from the key eastern city of Goma, defying for a second time an ultimatum set by neighboring nations.

The delay raises the possibility that the M23 rebels don't intend to leave the city they seized last week, giving credence to a United Nations Group of Experts report which argues that neighboring Rwanda is using the rebels as a proxy to annex territory in mineral-rich eastern Congo.

An M23 spokesman said Friday morning that for "logistical reasons" the rebels needed 48 more hours to complete their withdrawal, promising that the fighters would leave the city by Sunday.

Later in the day, the rebels attempted to force their way into Goma's international airport in order to seize arms belonging to the Congolese military which were being safeguarded there. Although the city fell to the rebels last week, United Nations peacekeepers regained control of the airport and on Friday, they blocked the fighters from entering, prompting the rebels to cry foul, and say that this "changes everything."

The regional bloc representing the nations bordering Congo had issued a Friday deadline for the M23 fighters to retreat, after the rebels had thumbed their nose at an earlier ultimatum. The statements made by the rebels on Friday suggest they are dragging their feet.

(30 images)




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M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. Rebels in Congo believed to be backed by Rwanda postponed their departure Friday from the key eastern city of Goma by 48 hours for "logistical reasons," defying for a second time an ultimatum set by neighboring African countries and backed by Western diplomats. AP / Jerome Delay
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Police Nationale du Congo officers who fled Goma when M23 rebels took over the city Nov. 18 2012, return on a barge to the port of Goma, eastern Congo, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. The police force were returning to resume control on Friday, as had been agreed by the regional bloc. AP / Jerome Delay
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Police Nationale du Congo officers who fled Goma when M23 rebels took over the city Nov. 18 2012, return on a barge to the port of Goma, eastern Congo, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Police Nationale du Congo officers who fled Goma when M23 rebels took over the city Nov. 18 2012, return on a barge to the port of Goma, eastern Congo, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Two MONUSCO UN soldiers stand guard in Goma's port as Police Nationale du Congo officers who fled Goma when M23 rebels took over the city Nov. 18 2012, return on a barge to the port of Goma, eastern Congo, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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A M23 rebel stands with his weapon as M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 30, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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A soldier of the Mai Mai militia rests in Kirotshe, some 30 kms south-west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Children walk past M23 rebels in the eastern Congo town of Sake, some 27 kms west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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FARDC Congolese government special forces gather in a stadium near Minova Congo, some 40 kms south-west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012, for a moral building gathering and an address by their commander General Bahouma. AP / Jerome Delay
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FARDC Congolese government troops patrol near Minova Congo, some 40 mms south-west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese people look at FARDC Congolese government special forces gathering in a stadium near Minova. Congo some 40 kms south-west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012, for a moral building gathering and an address by their commander General Bahouma. AP / Jerome Delay
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FARDC Congolese government special forces gather in a stadium near Minova, Congo, some 40 kms south-west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012, for a moral building gathering and an address by their commander General Bahouma. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese policeman in riot gear keeps an eye on Goma residents including street children who gathered for an anti Kabila demonstration supported by the M23 rebel movement in Goma, eastern Congo, Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese policeman in riot gear keeps an eye on Goma residents including street children who gathered for an anti Kabila demonstration supported by the M23 rebel movement in Goma, eastern Congo, Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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A Goma resident holds up a banner in French reading, "No to war, yes to dialogue, the truth and national unity" as he gathers with others for an anti President Joseph Kabila demonstration supported by the M23 rebel movement in Goma, eastern Congo, Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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A Congolese man pushes his scooter with firewood as Congolese M23 rebels drive on the Goma to Rushuru road, looking for FDLR (Force Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda) returning from an incursion into Rwanda Near Kibumba, north of Goma Tuesday Nov. 27, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Internally displaced Congolese gather at the Mugunga 3 camp west of Goma, eastern Congo, Monday Nov. 26, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Junior Mutsima, 11, who was wounded by a bullet to the thorax Nov. 19 2012, sits on his bed at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma Monday Nov. 26, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Promess Bitibo, 12, who was injured by bullet wounds to the abdomen Nov. 19 2012, grimaces as he is being dressed by a nurse at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma Monday Nov. 26, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese government soldiers (FARDC) sell cigarettes in Minova, which was under their control Sunday Nov. 25, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese government soldiers (FARDC) in Minova, which was under their control Sunday Nov. 25, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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An internally displaced Congolese man listen to the radio at the Mugunga camp outside the eastern Congolese town of Goma, Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Internally displaced Congolese prepare food at the Mugunga camp outside the eastern Congolese town of Goma, Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese people flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake , 27kms west of Goma, Friday Nov. 23 2012. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town when platoons of rebel made their way across the hills from Sake to the next major town of Minova. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese women run as Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours over the eastern Congolese town of Sake , 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of Goma, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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Congolese cross the deserted market as they flee after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours over the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of Goma, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012. AP / Jerome Delay
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The corpse of a Congolese government soldier lies on a road linking the provisional capital Goma with Sake, in eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The soldier was killed after government forces retreated from an assault on Goma by the M23 rebels, who successfully captured the strategic city on Tuesday. AP / Marc Hofer

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