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Troops and rebels traded heavy fire in eastern DR Congo on Monday, a military source and local inhabitants said, as an envoy from the East African bloc pursued efforts to hold a "peace dialogue" on the region's troubles.
Government forces and the M23 militia were fighting in Kibumba, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the strategic city of Goma in North Kivu province, they said, speaking by phone.
M23 fighters were also seen about 40 kms to the northwest of the city in the Virunga National Park, a wildlife haven famed for its mountain gorillas but which is also a bolthole for armed groups, the sources said.
A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 -- the March 23 Movement -- leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before being driven out.
After lying dormant for years, the rebels took up arms again in late 2021, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.
They have since won a string of victories against the army and captured swathes of territory, prompting thousands of people to flee their homes.
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The resurgence has ratcheted up diplomatic tensions, with the Democratic Republic of Congo accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the group.
Kinshasa expelled Rwanda's ambassador at the end of last month as the M23 advanced, and recalled its envoy from Kigali.
Rwanda denies providing any support for the M23 and accuses the Congolese army of colluding with the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) -- a notorious Hutu rebel movement involved in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
Eastern DR Congo was the theatre of two bloody regional wars in the 1990s.
That conflict, along with the Rwandan genocide, bequeathed a legacy of scores of armed groups which are active across the region but especially in North Kivu.
The heads of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) on Sunday announced they would hold a "peace dialogue" on the region's problems.
EAC's mediator, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Kinshasa on Sunday for talks aimed at paving the way for the meeting, set to take place on November 21.
The bloc has not spelt out who will take part in the talks or how long they are scheduled to run.
Another diplomatic path is being explored by Angolan President Joao Lourenco.
He met on Friday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and on Saturday with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.
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