M23 rebels patrolling the streets of Goma on Tuesday evening. Screen grab from a video filmed by our Observer.
Rebels from the armed group M23 have taken over Goma, the capital of North Kivu, a region in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Our Observer there sent us exclusive photos and videos he took Wednesday morning.
Calm has returned to the streets of Goma after a difficult day for its residents, who hid in their homes as the M23 rebels attacked the city, fighting off soldiers from the national army. Wednesday morning, the rebels held a public meeting in the city’s football stadium. They announced that they planned to “liberate” the entire country. They said they will next head south to the city of Bukavu, then on to the country’s capital, Kinshasa.
The United Nations, meanwhile, has accused the M23 of kidnapping women and children, and has called for the rebels to withdraw from Goma.
"Many soldiers dressed in civilian clothing to avoid getting killed"
Charly Kasereka is a blogger who lives in Goma. He took photos and videos on Tuesday as well as on Wednesday morning.
After fighting with the M23 on Tuesday morning, the Congolese army left town. Things calmed down in the evening; we didn’t hear a single gunshot. Today [Wednesday], there is still no electricity [which was cut off Sunday], so there is also no running water. Lots of people are heading to the great lakes with plastic barrels to stock up on drinking water. Most of the stores are still closed, but there are some vendors selling food in the streets.Photo and videos taken this morning, as Goma residents headed to the great lakes to stock up on water.People were very curious to hear what the M23 had to say. I saw hundreds of people walking to the stadium this morning [Wednesday]. Goma’s residents want their lives to get back to normal – they want electricity to return and want to know what the M23 has in mind for them.Crowds showed up at the Volcans football stadium in Goma Wednesday morning to hear the M23 speak. Photo by our Observer Alain Wandimoyi.M23 rebels patrolling the streets of Goma on Tuesday evening. Some local residents applaud them, and one man shouts acclaim for Rwanda.Along the roads, I’ve seen a lot of objects abandoned by soldiers from the Congolese army in their haste to leave town: shoes, helmets, and even some uniforms and suitcases. Many soldiers fled as soon as the M23 arrived, and dressed in civilian clothing to avoid getting killed. Some stayed and gave up their weapons this morning [Wednesday]. The M23 says that about 100 soldiers and policemen came to them to lay down their weapons.
Items left behind by soldiers who fled. Photos taken on November 20 and 21 in the neighbourhoods of Volcans and Mabanga.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Alexandre Capron.