DR Congo military says several army positions attacked by M23 rebels

DRCONGO-UNREST

Democratic Republic of Congo Fardc regular army soldiers sit at the back of a pick-up truck as they head towards the Mbuzi hilltop, near Rutshuru, on November 4, 2013, after the army recaptured the area from M23 rebels. Democratic Republic of Congo troops have driven out M23 rebels from several key positions in the east of the country in recent weeks, pushing on with an assault despite calls for a truce. Meanwhile African leaders will meet late on November 4 to discuss the next steps for a major peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as rebels there are forced onto the back foot. AFP PHOTO / Junior D. Kannah (Photo credit should read Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images)

KINSHASA: MAY. 25 – Several positions of the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have come under attack by March 23 Movement (M23) rebels since early Wednesday in the northeastern North Kivu province, the military confirmed.

“The Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) were attacked on several axes by the M23 and its allies from 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday,” Col. Ndjike Kaiko, an army spokesman in Goma, told Xinhua. “At present, the situation has stabilized in the zones of Chanzu, Runyonyi, and the surrounding area except in Kibumba, where the FARDC is working to repel the assailants from where they came from.”

He said M23 rebels have occupied Kibumba, about 20 kilometers from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, and that they also cut the road linking Goma and Bunagana, a Congolese town bordering Uganda where fighting has also been ongoing since Wednesday morning.

Clashes in Kikumba reportedly forced about 10,000 people to flee toward Rugari, in Rutshuru territory, and Kibati, about 8 kilometers from Goma, according to the United Nations.

Since last week, fighting has raged between the DRC army and M23 rebels attempting to regain control of several localities after being pushed back by government troops supported by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

On Tuesday, MONUSCO head Bintou Keita accused M23 rebels of deliberately targeting MONUSCO peacekeepers stationed in the Shangi area of the northeastern North Kivu province early Sunday, hours after attacking DRC army positions.

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. M23 leaders have accused the government of failing to respect that agreement.

The M23 announced in early April its withdrawal from the villages it took earlier in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu province. However, early Sunday, intense fighting resumed between DRC armed forces and the M23 in the Rutshuru territory.