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Congo fires army chief after rebel seizure of Goma

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 23, 2012 at 7:12 a.m.

— Congo’s president has suspended the chief of staff of its army, after the publication of a United Nations Group of Experts report which alleges that Gen. Gabriel Amisi has overseen a criminal network selling arms to rebels in the country’s troubled east.

The firing of the general comes after the Congolese military was handed a defeat this week, when an 8-month-old rebel group seized the major eastern city of Goma, and then pushed onwards to the town of Sake, which they took after a four-hour firefight.

On Friday, platoons of rebels were making their way across the hills from Sake to the next major town, Minova, where the Congolese army was believed to be regrouping.

Tens of thousands of civilians could be seen fleeing along the road to Goma, carrying mattresses and cooking pots on their heads, and babies on their backs. On Friday, Sake was nearly deserted. A lone father returned to his empty house. He had fled Thursday when the shooting broke out, but lost track of his four children in the scramble to get out of town. The youngest are just 2 and 4 years old, he said.

“We heard shots from the hills,” said Timothe Mashamba. “We fled, but now I have returned. I lost my four children when we fled and haven’t found them. I am waiting for them here. I can’t leave. They won’t know where to find me.”

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