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DRC Defense Minister rushes to North Kivu as the fights intensify

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Bemba at Goma International Airport

Rutshuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Prime Minister and National Minister of Defense, Jean-Pierre Bemba, on Friday rushed to North Kivu province as the fight between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), militia coalition under their umbrella Wazalendo (Patriots) intensified.

The fight has been on for about two weeks. M23 rebels are targeting to capture Sake town, located about 25 Kilometers Northwest of Goma.

The conflict has forced thousands of civilians to flee Sake town and neighboring areas towards Goma city. Others fled towards Bulengo and Lushagala camps in Mugunga district in Goma.

Accompanied by Chief of General Staff of FARDC, General Christian Tshiwewe, Bemba arrived at Goma International Airport at around 04:00 PM and was welcomed by North Kivu province Military Governor, Peter Chirimwami and Major General Fall Sikabwe, FARDC Operations Coordinator among other military officers.

Jimmy Nziali, Bemba’s civilian spokesperson told journalists that Bemba is in north Kivu to feel the situation on the ground and to assure civilians about the government army’s preparedness towards repelling M23 rebels from capturing Goma city. Bemba visited FARDC and Wazalendo fighters who are nursing gunshot wounds at Ndosho hospital.

At the time of his visit, the fight was on at in Mushaki , Masisi territory, and Kibumba in Nyiragongo territory.

Lieutenant Colonel Willy Ngoma, accused FARDC and coalition for launching assault. He argued the M23 is defending itself. 7

“The government coalition (axis of evil) is indiscriminately bombarding our positions on the Mushaki axis with heavy artillery; targeting even the objectives. The situation is under the control of the lions”, said Ngoma in a statement.

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Despite heavy fighting, Lawrence Kanyuka, M23 rebels’ political spokesperson also released a statement on Wednesday this week saying that M23 does not intend to capture the city of Goma in what is described as contrary to the propaganda of the Kinshasa regime.

Kanyuka however affirms that t artillery and aerial attacks targeting M23 fighters and indiscriminate bombing against civilian populations will attract (M23 fighters) to silence them at the source.

“The M23 does not intend to take the city of Goma contrary to the propaganda of the Kinshasa regime. However, artillery and aerial attacks targeting our forces and/or indiscriminate bombing against civilian populations will attract our forces to silence them at the source,” said Kanyuka.

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 fight against bad leadership in DR Congo based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.

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