According to residents, the heavily armed attackers emerged from Virunga National Park and simultaneously attacked the villages. Locals claim that the alleged rebels were M23. Later in the evening, General Sylvain Ekenge, the Congolese army's deputy spokesman accused M23 of being behind the attack.
Chanzu and Runyoni Hills where fighting erupted
The March 23 Movement (French: Mouvement du 23 mars), commonly
known as M23 a rebel group in Eastern Democratic of Congo -DRC has strongly
dismissed claims that it is involved in the attack on various villages in Rutshuru
territory, North Kivu province.
Heavy fighting erupted between a yet to be named rebel force and the government army on Sunday night at around 11:00 PM in the villages of Chanzu
and Runyoni in Rutshuru territory, about 25 kilometers from the border with Uganda. The fighting extended into Monday, forcing thousands of Congolese nationals in the affected area to flee into Uganda.
According to locals, the heavily armed attackers emerged
from Virunga National Park and simultaneously attacked the villages. Locals
claim that the alleged rebels were M23.
in the evening, General Sylvain Ekenge, the Congolese army's deputy spokesman accused
M23 of being behind the attack. General Ekenge assured the nation that the government armed
forces will not allow any rebel group to occupy a single millimeter of the
national territory. He confirmed that fighting between a rebel group and the government army is still going on.
“At present, the fighting is ongoing, and the
FARDC are determined to put an end to the M23 rebel group once and for all," insisted General Sylvain Ekenge. "The
Armed Forces have taken all the necessary measures to thwart this nth incursion
onto Congolese soil.”
He also called on the population to keep calm and to
continue to trust the defense and security forces, and went on: "The FARDC specifies that
the latest M23 attack in Chanzu and its surroundings comes at a time when the
DRC has engaged in the phase of pooling forces with its neighboring countries
for the normalization of relations, with a view to improving the security
situation in the sub-region for a lasting peace and a harmonious development
of our States.”
However, last night the M23 released a statement rubbishing
any claims of its involvement in the attack. In a statement signed by their president,
Bertrand Bisimwa, the M23 recalls that for more than a year, it has been
engaged in talks with the government of Kinshasa and that its delegates have
stayed and had exchanges that it describes as "very fruitful" with
the administration of President Felix Tshisekedi.
Bisimwe states in the statement: “It is wrong to believe that our movement can engage in
hostilities with the FARDC at a time when the partnership with the government
of the Republic is better and that all hopes are still allowed. Clearly, the
M23, therefore, denies being engaged in any armed confrontations in Rutshuru
According to Bisimwa M23 has always
refrained from responding for fear of provoking another unnecessary war.