Men dressed as women spark fighting in Congo

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Fresh fighting has erupted in eastern Congo, after more than 100 armed men disguised in women’s clothing entered the country from Rwanda.

The heavy fighting between the Congo army and M23 rebels resumed yesterday morning after starting on Sunday following the arrival of the armed men in women’s clothes, residents said.

“They were wearing kikwembe” – a Congolese shawl worn by women – “over their uniforms, and women’s headscarves,” said Bifumbu Ruhira, a farmer at the village of Kanyarucinya on the frontline between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels, who started fighting the government last year.

Mr Ruhira said he saw the oddly dressed combatants get off two trucks on the Rwandan side and run across the border.

“They were wearing kikwembe to confuse us, to conceal the fact they were soldiers. 
The whole village was afraid 
and I said to my wife, ‘Get to Goma,”’ he said, naming the nearby provincial capital which he thought would be safe from the fighting.

Another resident, Bakari Murefu, confirmed the account and said the fighting broke out at 2pm Sunday, shortly after the armed men crossed the border and reinforced the M23 rebel ranks located some two miles from Kanyarucinya.