GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) - The army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said it was closing in Friday on a farm where renegade General Bosco Ntaganda, an indicted war criminal, was holed up.
The Congolese armed forces (FARDC) began their move Thursday towards Mushaki, in the Masisi territory of Nord-Kivu province, where they have been fighting the mutineers led by Ntaganda since Sunday.
The renegade soldiers are former rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), in which Ntaganda was chief of staff, who had subsequently integrated into the army.
"On the Mushaki side, we're occupying two hills that overlook the place," a FARDC colonel told AFP by phone from the scene, where gunshots could be heard close to him. "The mutineers are on other hills but will soon be dislodged."
In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes including recruiting child soldiers, said he was on the "farm near Mushaki" with the support of the military hierarchy and the knowledge of President Joseph Kabila.
Ntaganda added that he was not concerned when the fighting began at Mushaki on Sunday because he was a military man and he had a personal guard, without giving details of how many soldiers were in it.
The senior officer had joined the army with his CNDP rebels in 2009, after peace accords were signed with the Kinshasa government. However, the government on Wednesday announced that "everything that is currently happening in the Masisi is the responsibility of General Bosco Ntaganda".
Local people accuse Ntaganda's men of killings, rape and looting.