DR Congo M23 Rebels Capture More Territory

M23 rebels seized more territory on Thursday as clashes went on for a third day in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, forcing ever more people to flee their homes, local residents and officials said.

The United Nations reported Wednesday that “more than 100,000” people had been displaced this week, most from around the North Kivu province town of Nyanzale, where some 80,000 people lived alongside tens of thousands who had already fled earlier fighting in the region.

By Thursday, the Tutsi-led M23 had also taken the town of Kibirizi, 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the northeast.

The rebels had “just taken Kibirizi” after an exchange of fire with army soldiers and pro-government militiamen, an administrative official for the town told AFP.

“The enemy is in Kibirizi,” a militia official confirmed. “We are still fighting with the army against them in the area.”

Local people were on the move, “in large numbers,” heading north away from the fighting, said Gervais Kambale from nearby Kanyayonga, where the displaced have been arriving all week.

“We have never seen so many,” he added. “For now we are provisionally sending them on to 10 reception sites.

“Some are sleeping under the stars, no organisation is looking after them for now,” Kambale said.

The M23 (March 23 Movement) on Monday launched an offensive against several towns, 70 kilometres from the provincial capital Goma, extending its control northwards in the Rutshuru and Masisi areas.

Sporadic clashes were also reported on Thursday from Sake, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) west of Goma.

At least 15 civilians, including children, were killed in Nyanzale in shelling attacks on inhabited areas Monday, according to medical sources and witnesses contacted by telephone.

After eight years of dormancy, the M23 rebellion took up arms again in late 2021, seizing large swathes of North Kivu — cutting off all land access to its capital Goma except the Rwandan border road in early February.

According to Kinshasa, the United Nations, and Western nations, neighboring Rwanda is backing the M23, an allegation Kigali denies.

The UN estimated at the end of 2023 that nearly seven million people were displaced in DR Congo, including 2.5 million in North Kivu alone.

Related Articles

Back to top button