Kampala - More than 600 government soldiers have fled fighting with M23 rebels in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have sought sanctuary in neighbouring Uganda, a local military spokesman said Friday.

“The Congolese government soldiers came in yesterday and throughout the night in very big numbers,” Captain Peter Mugisha with the Ugandan army told dpa.

“They fled from their units, which were fighting the rebels of (Bosco) Ntaganda. They ran away from the fighting,” Mugisha said by telephone.

Ntaganda, a military figure in Congo's volatile east nicknamed the “Terminator,” is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He is accused of being a leader of M23, a group of dissident soldiers who mutinied in March.

The government soldiers fleeing the rebels passed through the border town of Bunagana and are being kept at military barracks in the area, about 480 kilometres from the Ugandan capital Kampala.

A damning UN report released this month accuses Rwanda of arming the M23 rebels. - Sapa-dpa