During the night on 21 August, heavy fighting broke out 3km north of Goma’s airport between the M23 rebel movement and FARDC soldiers. According to sources in the region, the fighting involved armour, mortar and artillery attacks, as well as prolific machine gun fire.
In addition to fighting near Goma’s airport, the main communications tower in Kibati (+-4km north of Goma) was destroyed during the clash. Along with the destruction of the tower and the close proximity of the fighting to the airport, unconfirmed reports of Somali and Ugandan troops being involved in the fighting have also emerged, which if true could indicate external influence in the conflict, or even Allied Democratic Front (ADF) involvement.
Fresh fighting today saw Goma being shelled with mortar fire, and the governor’s office being hit.
If fighting persists, M23’s assault on Goma, or the FARDC reaction to it, could see a marked increase in the hitherto non-activated MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade. As it stands, this is some of the heaviest fighting experienced this close to Goma’s airport this year. The shelling of Goma itself by rebels highlights just how close mortars and artillery units are able to approach to the town despite the largescale security presence.