Congo's army launches offensive against rebels in South Kivu, gunfire heard, residents say

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KINSHASA, Congo — Congo's army launched its offensive against rebels early Tuesday in South Kivu as residents told a United Nations-backed radio station that gunfire could be heard.

Soldiers deployed to the region found members of the Rwandan Hutu rebel group, known by its French acronym FDLR, and clashes broke out in the towns of Kuvuye and Mulindi, Radio Okapi reported.

Radio Okapi reported that a military official said that the fighting "effectively marks the actual start of military operations of the army against FDLR in the South Kivu province."

The Congolese army vowed to oust the rebels after they failed to meet a January deadline to disarm.

Eastern Congo has been plagued by a myriad of armed rebels in the two decades since the Rwandan genocide. The FDLR includes Rwandan Hutus who committed the 1994 massacres and fled into Congo. The instability has allowed other fighters to flourish as well.

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