Amid fighting, many Congolese head to Uganda

Oct 30, 2013, 6:43 AM EDT
REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency in Uganda says more than 5,000 Congolese have crossed into Uganda to escape renewed fighting between Congo's military and M23 rebels.

Lucy Beck of UNHCR said Wednesday that the number was expected to rise to 10,000 by Thursday, as fighting intensifies near the Uganda-Congo border. She said humanitarian workers could hear gunfire a few kilometers (miles) from the Bunagana border post. Bunagana is one of M23's strongholds, but it was unclear if the rebels still controlled it Wednesday.

Congo's military has stepped up its offensive against the rebels who are widely believed to be backed by Rwanda.

Most of the refugees are children and women, some of whom carried their livestock and prized belongings across the border, according to Beck.