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Congo rebels smuggling out gold worth $500m a year

Congo rebels smuggling out gold worth $500m a year

KINSHASA: M23 rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo have built alliances with local gangs to gain control of lucrative gold mines and smuggle out $500 million a year of the precious metal to finance their brutal attacks, a Washington-based human rights group reported.

Despite M23 leader Bosco Ntaganda’s surrender to war crimes investigators in The Hague this year, his co-commander has succeeded in reviving a brisk trade in “conflict minerals,” according to the report by Enough, which bills its mission as ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

De facto M23 commander Sultani Makenga has joined forces with armed groups – including some rivals – in Congo’s mineral-rich east, from which they smuggle out gold through Uganda and Burundi for sale to jewelers in the United Arab Emirates, Enough reported in “Striking Gold.”