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15 killed, thousands flee in latest DR Congo rebel...

15 killed, thousands flee in latest DR Congo rebel attacks

The Rwanda-backed M23 rebel group on Monday launched sweeping attacks in DR Congo’s lawless east, killing at least 15 people and leading thousands to flee.

Testimony from locals, health workers, and government officials pointed to attacks in the Rutshuru region of the eastern province of North Kivu.

Fighting between the mostly Tutsi M23 rebels and Congolese government forces has flared in recent days in the Rutshuru and Masisi regions. Access to the North Kivu capital Goma has been virtually severed.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN, and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting the rebels in a bid to control vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies.

Sources said fighting erupted in several areas north of Goma.

“Around four in the morning, the M23 attacked our forces in Kirima,” local official Maisha Faustin told AFP, adding that they had cut off a major supply route for the Congolese army.

At Nyanzale, about 10 kilometres west of Kirima, at least 15 people, including children died in the clashes.

“Bombs rained on the residents,” said Ombeni Gasiga, a leading civil society member in Nyanzale. “The whole population fled,” he said.

“We were forced to flee with the sick to save our lives,” said a worker at a health facility.

Several sources said at least 10 people, including children, died when a projectile landed near a building.

A health worker said 12 people were wounded, adding: “Sadly five of them died, including three children.”

The European Union on Monday joined the United States and France in condemning Kigali.

“The EU condemns Rwanda’s support for M23 and military presence on Congolese territory. It strongly urges Rwanda to immediately withdraw all its military personnel from the DRC as well as to terminate all support to and cooperation with M23,” a statement said. The defencepost.com


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