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Congo says rebels have declared war

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M23 rebels patrol around Congo's Central Bank in Goma, eastern Congo, Monday.

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GOMA, Congo — The spokesman for Congo's military said the M23 rebels controlling the crucial, eastern city of Goma have “declared war” by refusing to leave the town and defying a deadline set by neighboring nations.

Col. Olivier Hamuli also told The Associated Press by telephone that the incursion early Tuesday morning by another rebel group into Rwandan territory just across the border from Congo was a “piece of theater” organized by the Rwandan-backed M23 rebels to create a diversion and a pretext to allow them to keep control of Goma.

“They (the M23 rebels) have refused to leave the city of Goma. This is a declaration of war, and we intend to resume combat,” said Hamuli.

The M23 rebels, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, seized Goma last week.

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