GOMA, Congo -- Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battled for hours Thursday over the eastern town of Sake, forcing thousands of people to flee as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure.
Meanwhile, the leader of the rebel group known as M23 headed to neighbouring Uganda where emergency talks were held this week between the presidents of Congo and its neighbours Uganda and Rwanda.
Fighting broke out Thursday just before noon in the town of Sake, which the rebels seized Wednesday after capturing the strategic provincial capital of Goma, about 27 kilometres away.
A woman whose husband died of mortar shrapnel wailed as she was carried out of town.
Rebel spokesman Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama vowed the fighters would press forward toward seizing the strategic town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall.
"We are not stopping at all; the determination is the same. Whatever happens in Kampala does not affect us," Kazarama told The Associated Press, confirming that rebel leader Col. Sultani Makenga was travelling to Uganda.
The presidents from Congo, Rwanda and Uganda who met in the Ugandan capital of Kampala have called on the fighters to give up the territory they now control. Congolese President Joseph Kabila later said he was willing to talk with rebel representatives.
-- The Associated Press