Resurgent east Congo violence displaces 72,000 in one week
FILE PIC: People fleeing in DR Congo. /AP

FILE PIC: People fleeing in DR Congo. /AP

The United Nations said on Friday that fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the past week between the army and M23 rebel group has forced more than 72,000 people to flee their homes.

The M23, a rebellion claiming to represent the interests of ethnic Tutsis in eastern Congo, is staging its largest offensive since a 2012-2013 insurrection that captured vast swathes of the countryside.

There has been heavy fighting as near as 20 km to eastern Congo's main city of Goma, and the rebels briefly captured the army's largest base in the area.

Of the 72,000 who have fled, about 7,000 reportedly crossed into neighboring Uganda, the UN Refugee Agency said in a statement. Others have headed to Goma or taken shelter in sites built to house people fleeing a volcanic eruption last year.

Congo has 5.6 million internally displaced persons, the most in Africa, according to UN figures. There are at least 1.9 million in North Kivu, the province where the current fighting is taking place.

(With input from Reuters)

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