M23 Says it has Captured Kitschanga Town

The rebels have released a video showing them singing and dancing to victory songs aat the main roundabout in Kitschanga town.
M23 rebels in Kitschanga

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The March 23 Movement has claimed the capture of Kitschanga town, as fighting resumed with government forces and its militia coalition in North Kivu province, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) intensifies.     

On Thursday, the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers released a video of its soldiers patrolling Kitschanga town located in Bashali chiefdom, Masisi territory. The force also assured the public that it is blocking the M23 rebels from advancing.  

However, in the evening hours, fighting intensified and FARDC soldiers were seen in trucks fleeing.  Later in the night, M23 rebels’ military commander, Emmanuel Sultan Makenga claimed that Kitschanga has fallen into their hands.    

THe rebels also released a video, in which they are seen singing and dancing victory songs at the main roundabout in Kitschanga town.

//Cue in: “ M23 M23 akuta…//

Cue out: …oye!”//

  “The Saviors of Kitshanga, have put an end to the genocide of Tutsi," said Makenga in a statement. "M23 fighters are in the center of Kitshanga after chasing away the mercenaries and FARDC. Celebrates the liberation of the locality. Next steps full national liberation. There will be no slippage or exclusion. A united Congo for all Congolese without exception.“    

A civilian source also confirmed to our reporter that traffic along Kitshanga-Goma is paralyzed after M23 rebels captured the road. According to the source, the road is very important for supplying Goma with various foodstuffs since National Road 2, to the north of the city, was cut off late 2022 by the progress of the M23. 

He says that vehicles heading to Goma from Butembo are still blocked by the M23 at the Kitshanga gate while passengers have fled. He adds that some civilians who were still in the city of Kitshanga sought refuge inside United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) base in the area while others fled to Mweso, Kashuga, Kalembe.

FARDC is yet to make an official statement about the claimed capture of Kitshanga by M23.   Fighting resumed on Tuesday in Bishusha, Bwiza, Ngesha and Bishakishaki, Bambo, Kishishe, and Kitchanga localities straddling the territories of Masisi and Rutshuru after weeks of lull.  

The resumption of fighting came a few days after the visit of Lieutenant-General Christian Tshiwewe the government army commander, who visited Goma city to assess the security situation in North Kivu.  it also came a few days after civilians in Goma city held a demonstration accusing FARDC soldiers and Kenyan soldiers in the area under East African Community regional force of failure to launch an assault on M23.   

The M23 handover of its two captured positions of Kibumba and Rumangabo as a way of implementing Luanda and Nairobi peace process has not stopped the fight.  Fighting which started in March 2020 and left many areas in Rutshuru, Nyiragoongo and Masisi territories including the Uganda DR Congo borders of Bunagana and Busanza in the hands of the rebels has escalated the impasse between DR Congo and Rwanda.   

DR Congo accuses Rwanda of backing M23 rebels. Rwanda strongly refutes the accusations.  On Tuesday evening, the Rwandan military shot a DR Congo’s war jet, saying that it had violated Rwanda’s air space. 

DR Congo refuted the accusations with condemnations saying that the jet did not cross to Rwanda. 

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