GOMA, Congo — Soldiers and rebels battled for hours over the eastern town of Sake on Thursday, forcing thousands of people to run as militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push ahead despite mounting international pressure.
Meanwhile, the leader of the M23 rebel group went to neighboring Uganda where emergency talks were held this week between the presidents of Congo and its neighbors Uganda and Rwanda.
Fighting erupted Thursday in the town of Sake, which the rebels had seized Wednesday after capturing the strategic provincial capital of Goma, about 17 miles away.
Rebel spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vianney Kazarama vowed Thursday that the fighters would press toward seizing the strategic eastern town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall.
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.
Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, later said he was willing to talk with rebel representatives.