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Congolese refugees head home as calm returns in Rutshuru

Congolese refugees crossing back home. URN photo

Kisoro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Some of the refugees who fled fighting in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC on Monday are slowly returning back home.

Heavy fighting erupted between an unknown rebel force and the government forces on Sunday night in the villages of Chanzu and Runyoni in Rutshuru territory, about 25 kilometres from the border with Uganda. The fighting forced thousands of Congolese nationals to flee to Uganda.

The affected locals were sheltered at Nyakabande Refugee Transit center while others remained at the Bunagana border.

On Monday night, General Sylvain Ekenge, deputy spokesman for the Congolese military, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), issued a statement confirming that the Chanzu and Runyoni villages had been recaptured by the government troops. General Ekenge also accused the March 23 Movement, commonly known as M23 rebel group to be behind the attack, a statement that Bertrand Bisimwa, the M23 president strongly rubbished.

On Tuesday at around 11:00am, our reporter saw some of the Congolese nationals carrying their luggage crossing back to Congo. Locals at the Bunagana border also said that since Monday evening, they have not heard the sound of gunfire from Rutshuru.

Elly Maate, the Kigezi Region Police Spokesperson says that some Congolese have started crossing back to their country. According to Maate, the Congolese crossed back to their country after Congolese security officials in Rutshuru, announced that the army had recaptured Chanzu and Runyoni last night.

Maate however says that the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers and Uganda Police Force officers under the command of Doka Rashid, acting Kigezi region police commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kafurrk Gumizamu, the UPDF 35 Battalion Commander, Henry Kintu, Kisoro District Police Commander, Alsad Bigirimana, and the Bunagana town border immigrations in charge are fully patrolling the border.

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