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42 'M23 Rebels' Arrested in Kisoro

Forty two men believed to be members of the M23 rebel group have been arrested in Kisoro district amidst reports that fighting has resumed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo DRC.
Forty two men believed to be members of the M23 rebel group have been arrested in Kisoro district amidst reports that fighting has resumed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Ugandan security arrested the rebels on Thursday night at Busigi cell in Busanza Sub County near the border.

Johnson Nkurunziza, the Local Council one Chairperson for Busigi cell, says that the rebels crossed to Uganda during a heavy gunfire exchange with the DRC government army.

According to Nkurunziza, the rebels started running from DRC and camping in their village at around 1:00pm. Nkunrunziza says that a few hours later the DRC army also appeared at the border pursuing the rebels. The DRC forces are said to have fired randomly into Uganda after failing to get the rebels. Nobody was injured.

Nkurunziza also claims the DRC army walked for about 60 metres into Uganda and raised their national flag before crossing back to their country. 

Uganda Radio Network is unable to independently verify this claim which, if confirmed, could be interpreted as an act of aggression against Uganda. Capt Arthur Timbaganya, the Second Division UPDF spokesperson, said he was in a meeting and he would respond later. 

Hajji Shafique Ssekandi, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, confirms that 42 M23 rebels were arrested and are being detained at Kisoro Police Station. Ssekandi also says that the rebels will be transferred to Bihanga Military Training School in Ibanda District.

Ssekandi says that over one hundred refugees from the DRC have already crossed to Uganda and are now at Nyakabande Transit Camp. He says that business in the area and along the border has returned to normal.

Ssekandi also says that the Ugandan security in now on the alert along the border. He calls upon local residents not to harm refugees or rebels that cross into Uganda but instead hand them over to relevant authorities.

On Thursday, Guillaume Djike, a spokesman for the DRC army in the restive North Kivu Province said 16 people had been killed between Monday and Wednesday, while five rebels had been captured and 58 others had surrendered. Djike did not specify whether the dead were rebels, government troops or civilians.

M23 is a rebel group that mutinied against DR Congo in 2012, accusing government of disregarding a peace accord signed in 2009. The militia was defeated the following year, and hundreds of fighters fled the country to Uganda. But in January this year, the government and residents of North Kivu said M23 fighters had returned from neighbouring Uganda.

This came shortly after the Uganda government announced that some of the former combatants being accommodated at Bihanga Military training School had escaped while others could not be accounted for. On January 22nd, the Uganda Police intercepted five more M23 ex-combatants in Kisoro District on their way to the DRC. 

Four days earlier, some 53 former rebels were arrested in Mbarara on their way back home in DRC. The group was sent back to Bihanga Military Training School in Ibanda district. The combatants are part of 270 former rebels who were confined at Bihanga Military Training School following their defeat by the DRC government forces in 2014. 

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