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DR Congo army claims M23 rebels attacking military positions

The M23 rebels have attacked military positions of Chanzu and Runyonyi, in North Kivu province. File Photo

Kinshasa, DRC | Xinhua | The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) on Monday accused the March 23 Movement (M23) of conducting attacks in DRC’s northeastern border region with Uganda, where violence has escalated since the beginning of this year due to presence of numerous armed groups.

The M23 attacked the military positions of Chanzu and Runyonyi, in North Kivu province, “with the intention of carrying out destabilizing actions and elsewhere in the province,” the FARDC Chief of Staff Celestin Mbala Munsense said in a statement, adding that the fighting is still ongoing.

“The FARDC is determined to put an end once and for all to this armed group, which must be neutralized definitively,” he said.

Yet Bertrand Bisimwa, M23’s president, denied that his men had launched such attack in the region.

Though admitting M23’s presence since 2017, Bisimwa claimed that his soldiers have avoided initiating “useless war” and that the M23 is “waiting impatiently the sincerity” of the DRC president Felix Tshisekedi to implement the outcomes reached by M23 and DRC’s government during the peace talks for more than a year.

“However, we require that uncontrolled elements deployed in different government army positions in Rutshuru territory to put an end to the provocative acts they engage in malignantly,” said Bisimwa.

According to Mbala Munsense, the resurgence of the M23 rebellion came at a time when DRC “is engaging with neighboring countries for the normalization of relations in order to improve the security situation in the sub-region for lasting peace and harmonious development of our countries”.

Several FARDC’s military positions in the region “have been attacked on the night from Sunday to Monday in a strategic area located on the border between the DRC and Uganda,” confirmed Patrick Muyaya, spokesman for the DRC government.

The latest attack came amid mounting violence in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where armed groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been active.

Several villages in the area are now empty as their inhabitants, including women and children, have crossed the border into Uganda for fear of the rebels’ advance in the region.

Security forces of North Kivu province have arrived in the city of Rutshuru, a few kilometers from the site of the clashes, to monitor the situation, according to local security sources who requested anonymity.

The last attack carried out by the M23 dates back to July 2020, according to Mbala Munsense.

“Faced with this situation, the FARDC have taken all measures to thwart this umpteenth incursion of the M23 on the Congolese soil,” he said.

The M23 is a group of former rebels of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). The name came from the March 23, 2009, agreement between the CNDP and the Congolese government, which M23 leaders claimed had not been respected by the government.

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Xinhua

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