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M23 Denies Involvement in Rutshuru Attack

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.  

Later 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 territory.

According to Bisimwa M23 has always refrained from responding for fear of provoking another unnecessary war. 

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