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Fri, 28 Sep 2012 11:27 - Updated Fri, 28 Sep 2012 11:27

Shootings, grenade attacks rattle Congo's Goma

KINSHASA

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KINSHASA - Up to 12 people have been killed in a series of night-time shootings and grenade attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma, raising fears rebels from the surrounding
countryside have started a new offensive, officials said.

Witnesses told Reuters on Thursday youths equipped with torches and whistles had started organising watches to protect their neighbourhoods after dark and panic was spreading.

"For the past two weeks we have seen scores of killings, attacks with guns, lootings, illegal entering into NGO (aid group) houses, I can't even count them," said Alexander Essome, the Goma-based spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission MONUSCO.

Goma is the capital of North Kivu, which has been swept by violence since March when hundreds of soldiers defected from the army in support of mutinous general Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court for suspected war crimes.

Rebels have been trying to take control of large parts of the east of the country and seizing Goma would be a major coup.