Fighters Sneak Into Congo Disguised as Women

First heavy fighting in months begins soon afterward

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2013 2:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Heavy fighting over the last two days in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed the lives of more than 100 anti-government rebels and about a dozen Congo soldiers, reports the Voice of America. It's notable for two reasons: The more important one is that it's the first major fighting since May, which doesn't bode well for international efforts to finally bring peace to the country. The second is this weird detail: Before the fighting began, about 100 Rwandan men were trucked across the border to join the M23 rebels—while disguised as women.

"They were wearing kikwembe (a woman's shawl) over their uniforms, and women's headscarves," one farmer tells the AP. They were apparently trying to hide the fact that rebels were getting reinforcements, and the best guess is that they were soldiers from the Rwandan army. (The UN has accused Rwanda of aiding the rebels, but Rwanda denies it.) The renewed fighting began after peace talks again hit an impasse last week. A UN mission is on the ground, and the world body says it is ready to use its weapons to protect civilians.

In this Dec. 1, 2012 file photo, M23 rebels withdraw from the eastern Congo town of Goma.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
In this 2012 file photo, M23 rebels withdraw from the Masisi and Sake areas in eastern Congo.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
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