Once again, conflict has ignited in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, pitting government forces against rebels affiliated with the M23 group.
Reports from residents indicate that the rebels seized control of Kitshanga in North Kivu province starting last Saturday. Local radio stations have documented multiple individuals requiring medical attention due to gunshot injuries.
A security source informed AFP news agency that efforts are underway to reclaim the town from the rebel forces. Kitshanga and its environs have witnessed a series of changing allegiances since the onset of this year’s conflict.
Approximately three weeks ago, hostilities resumed following a six-month ceasefire period, during which the area was under the monitoring of an international force assembled by neighboring Congolese nations.
More than 20 civilians were reported killed in separate attacks in the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting also resumed over the weekend between the government and M23 insurgents, local sources told AFP on Sunday.
In Ituri province, CODECO militants — a group claiming to protect the Lendu community from another ethnic group, the Hema — was accused of targeting five villages in Mahagi early on Saturday.
United Nations peacekeepers patrol towards the Kigonze camp for the internally displaced people in Bunia, Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo March 2, 2023.
“For now, we’ve counted 15 dead, mainly women, children and old people,” said Arnold Lokwa, a village chief.
At least nine people were reported killed at Nguli in neighboring North Kivu by rebels in the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is linked to the Islamic State jihadist group, village chief Kambale Kamboso said.
Two children were also missing after the attack, carried out with “machetes and knives,” he told AFP.
The ADF, originally an insurgency in Uganda, gained a foothold in eastern DR Congo in the 1990s and has since been accused of killing thousands of civilians.
Further south in North Kivu, fighting also broke out Saturday between government forces and the M23 after several days of wary calm as a regional military force is deployed in the volatile region.