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M23 Rebels, FARDC Clash Claims Eight, Leaves Nine Others Nursing Injuries


Fierce fighting between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), along with coalition forces, in the Kikuku area of the northern part of Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province, on Monday resulted in the deaths of eight civilians and injuries to nine others.

Among the deceased were Sinamenye Mudashungura (65), Kimeri Semagori (43), Nsanzumukiza Sabato (34), Mahirwe Jeanne (6), Mukesha Mucuzi (31), Habyarimana Bitama (47), Hebu Serumondo (1), and Mvuyekure Birihanze (38). The injured included Gisore Juvenal (40), Tumaini Nzirengera (22), Abdou Kavumbura (37), Ndayisaba Sinaribonye (36), Pendo Dejene (12), Stefano Ntimbati (1 month), Uwiringiye Sada (3), Cyizanye Nikuze (30), and Injiri Muhawimana (25).

The clashes, which began on Sunday, occurred in Kikuku and surrounding areas such as Kibirizi, Kashalira, Katolo, Bwalanda, and Rwindi. FARDC soldiers and coalition forces established defensive positions in Chaghala, Lusuli, Mirangi, Lusogha, Birundule, Kitolu, Kirere, and Buluma to prevent M23 fighters from advancing to capture the town of Kanyabayonga.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, M23 rebels’ president Bertrand Bisimwa and political spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka released a joint statement, reporting that four houses were destroyed by bombs during the fighting. They described the incident as tragic and claimed that the bombs, which caused civilian casualties, were fired from the direction of FARDC soldiers and coalition forces. They expressed concern over the international community’s silence regarding the volatile security situation in the province.

“….the coalition destroyed four houses in Kikuku. We strongly condemn these inhumane and barbaric acts of violence. The continued killings perpetrated by the coalition forces of the Kinshasa regime constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The culpable silence of the international community in the face of these atrocities is unacceptable. It is imperative to protect human lives and guarantee the safety of innocent civilians. These acts of violence must not go unpunished”, say Kanyuka and Bisimwa in a statement.  

The Democratic Republic of Congo government has yet to comment on the incident. This is not the first time civilians have been killed and injured during clashes between M23 rebels and FARDC/coalition forces in North Kivu province. On May 3, 2024, 35 people were killed by bombs in a camp for displaced locals in Lushagala site, Mugunga district, west of Goma city. After the incident, both M23 rebels and the DRC government/coalition released statements accusing each other of firing bombs in the camp.

In March 2024, eighteen civilians were killed by bombs in Nyanzale and Matete villages, located between Kishishe and Kirima along the Mabenga road. M23 rebels accused FARDC and the coalition of shelling civilian positions. In January 2024, 19 civilians were killed in Mweso town, Masisi territory, with both parties accusing each other of responsibility.

In March 2022, M23, led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga, initiated a conflict against the government. The DRC government accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, although both Rwanda and M23 vehemently deny these claims. The rebels assert that they are fighting against corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination within the leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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