Heavy fighting erupted in North Kivu province on Monday between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and their coalition allies after a period of relative calm. The conflict has subsided since March 25, 2024. However, on Monday, gunfire broke out in Bwito chiefdom, Rutshuru territory, particularly in villages surrounding the town of Nyanzale and Matete village, located between Kishishe and Kirima along the Mabenga road.

Fighting also intensified in Kisoko, Mubirubiru, and Lwahanga villages near Nyanzale. Additionally, two bombs struck the village of Kihondo near the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeeper base in Nyanzale. Hundreds of civilians fled Nyanzale and neighboring villages of Bwalanda, Kashalira, and Kirima in the Mutanda Groupement, heading north towards Kanyabayonga via Kibirizi. 

Deadly clashes also erupted in Mbuhi and Pilote villages near the town of Mweso. As of now, the government army has not issued any statement regarding the latest fighting. Lawrence Kanyuka, the political spokesperson for the M23 rebels, released a statement on Monday afternoon accusing FARDC and the coalition forces of initiating the assault, which prompted M23 to respond defensively. 

Kanyuka stated, “We strongly condemn the continuous attacks against civilian populations in Mabenga, Mweso, and their surroundings, perpetrated by the coalition forces of the Kinshasa regime, particularly the FARDC, FDLR, mercenaries, militias, the National Defense Forces of Burundi, and the forces of the SADC, using heavy artillery and battle tanks,” he said.    

Adding that, “These attacks result in the tragic loss of innocent civilian lives, significantly exacerbating the already worrying humanitarian crisis. It is imperative that MONUSCO stops contributing to the killing of civilian populations. The Congo River Alliance (AFC) reaffirms its determination to protect civilian populations.”   

He urged the international community to break its silence and condemn the flagrant human rights violations, as well as the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Mr. Tshisekedi Tshilombo and his forces.   The latest fighting occurred just two days after military Chiefs of General Staff from South Africa, the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, and Burundi visited Goma city to assess the security situation and strategize on defeating M23 rebels. 

Despite the intense fighting, FARDC soldiers and militia coalition under the Wazalendo (Patriots) umbrella and troops under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have yet to recapture any positions seized by M23 rebels. In March 2022, M23, led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga, launched a war against the government. The DR Congo government accuses Rwanda of backing M23, but Rwanda and M23 strongly deny it. The rebels claim to be fighting against bad leadership in DR Congo, citing corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination. 


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