Congo's M23 rebels broke a pledge not to enter Goma and took the city today morning with little trouble.
After days of clashes with government troops, scores of heavily armed rebels walked through the city unchallenged as United Nations peacekeepers watched.
"We already took the airport and we are now inside Goma," M23 spokesman Colonel Vianney Kazarama said.
Explosions and machine-gun fire had rocked the lakeside city as the rebels pushed forward on two fronts - toward the city centre and along the road that leads to Bukavu, another provincial capital to the south.
An official at the UN peacekeeping base in Goma confirmed that the airport had fallen.
The UN had warned that a humanitarian catastrophe would likely follow the fall of Goma.
The rebels, believed to be backed by Rwanda, have been fighting Congolese government forces which are backed by UN peacekeepers, tasked with protecting civilians.
But Congolese military spokesman Olivier Hamuli said the peacekeepers had not helped the government forces because they did not have a mandate to engage the rebels.
The rebels claim that they are fighting for their community but a UN investigation has shown that M23 is being propped up by Rwanda and is more likely linked to the fight to control eastern Congo's mineral wealth.