South Africa police arrest 19 suspected Congolese rebels

JOHANNESBURG Tue Feb 5, 2013 7:57am GMT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police arrested 19 suspected Congolese rebels, including two senior members of the M23 group, on suspicion of running an illegal military operation, police said on Tuesday.

The group was arrested in South Africa's northern Limpopo province after an investigation by a crime intelligence unit, police said, without providing further details.

A separate law enforcement official said they were members of the M23 rebels that have carved out a fiefdom in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, dragging the region back into war and displacing an estimated half a million people.

The M23 rebels, who launched their offensive after accusing President Joseph Kabila of reneging on the terms of a March 2009 peace agreement, have since broadened their goals to include removal of Kabila and "liberation" of the entire Congo.

The 19 are expected to appear in a court in Pretoria to face a charge under South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance act, police said in a statement.

(Reporting by Peroshni Govender and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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