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Fighting erupts in eastern DR Congo after days of lull: Sources

Fighting erupts in eastern DR Congo after days of lull: Sources
Heavy and light weapons fire reported in villages of Rutshuru territory

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - Fighting resumed on Thursday between Congolese forces and the M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), breaking a recent cease-fire, sources said.

Fighting broke out in the Kirima village, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Bambo-Kibirizi town in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu province at around 9 a.m. local time, a provincial source told Anadolu Agency.

Heavy and light weapons were heard in the surrounding villages of Matete and Lushebere, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak to the media.

The military have yet to confirm, but Juson Kaniki, a civil society representative in Kibirizi, said the fighting created panic and residents started to flee the fighting.

Thousands of residents have fled to Kitshanga, Masisi territory, he said.

The fighting broke out a week after the M23 rebel group agreed to a cease-fire as demanded by African leaders at a mini summit in the Angolan capital Luanda.

On Nov. 23, the summit hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco also demanded “the immediate withdrawal of M23 rebels from the occupied areas.”

Defense experts from the East African Community (EAC) bloc on Wednesday called on armed groups in eastern DR Congo to lay down their arms at the end of their meeting in Goma, the provincial capital.

DR Congo has accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels, occupy large areas in Rutshuru territory, a charge Kigali dismisses as “scapegoating.”

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has suggested his Congolese counterpart is exploiting the security crisis in the east to delay elections, due in December 2023.

Inter-Congolese dialogue between Congolese government and armed groups operating in eastern DR Congo opened on Monday in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

But the Congolese government has ruled out engaging in talks with M23 until the rebels withdraw from the areas they occupy.

The Luanda talks noted that the EAC's regional force will continue its deployment to the eastern region.

Last month, Kenya joined Burundi in deploying its troops in the DR Congo and Uganda announced plans to deploy about 1,000 troops.

On Wednesday, the EAC peace facilitator, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, insisted the M23 to comply with the resolutions of the Luanda summit, and withdraw from the occupied areas.

source: News Feed
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