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Congo army fights back, rebels hold Goma

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

M23 rebel fighters rush from Goma to the town of Sake to reinforce positions as residents of Sake flee with their belongings on the road between Goma and Sake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 22, 2012. Many of the fleeing residents stopped at an internally displaced person camp between Sake and Goma.

Reuters reports — Congolese troops fought back on Thursday against rebels who rejected calls from African leaders to quit the eastern city of Goma, captured earlier this week in a major upset that forced U.N. troops to withdraw.

Thousands of people fled the area of clashes around the town of Sake, as M23 rebel fighters rushed from Goma to reinforce their positions against an army counter-offensive.

Both sides claimed control of Sake as night fell on the troubled eastern area. There was no independent verification of who was holding the town.

The M23 rebel movement, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, has vowed to "liberate" all of the vast, resource-rich country after taking Goma, a provincial capital on the Rwandan border, ramping up tensions in a fragile region. Full story…

Jerome Delay / AP

Women run after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battle over the eastern Congolese town of Sake, Nov. 22. The woman in orange, identified as Mamou, said she lost her husband by a fatal wound to the head from incoming mortar rounds. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Thousands of Congolese flee the town of Sake, about 16 miles west of Goma, following fresh fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nov. 22.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images

Congolese children sit on a step in front of M23 rebels in Sake, Nov. 22, 2012. Rebels took the town yesterday, but were engaged in heavy gunfighting this afternoon as government-allied militia tried to retake it.

Dai Kurokawa / EPA

A woman who fled her home in Sake emerges from a shelter at an internally displaced person camp in Mugunga, between Goma and Sake, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 22.

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