Fighting is still ongoing in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite the announcement on March 3 in Luanda of a new truce accepted by the M23 rebellion, as revealed by local sources.
On Monday morning, fighting had resumed on between the army and the M23 on the northern and southern fronts in the province of North Kivu, leaving several civilians dead and injured according to hospital and humanitarian sources.
On Tuesday morning, as the ceasefire was scheduled for 10:00 GMT, clashes continued and both sides accused each other of launching attacks on their positions.
“Karuba (about 30 km west of the provincial capital Goma) has just fallen into rebel hands,” said a security source.
“We attacked them last night but this morning they launched a counter-attack and at this time the fighting continues,” added the same source.
“The M23 terrorists and their sponsors from the Rwanda Defense Force (the Rwandan army) launched an attack which targeted the Burundian contingent recently deployed as part of the regional force of the East African Community (EAC)”, declared Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, spokesman for the army in North Kivu on Monday evening.
He confirmed that the “mortar” attack had also targeted a camp for displaced persons and the city of Mubambiro, causing “enormous damage”, 20 km west of Goma.
On his part, Willy Ngoma, a spokesman for the M23, told AFP on Tuesday that the Congolese army on Monday attacked “all (its) positions simultaneously” and that the rebellion was still under attack on Tuesday morning. The M23 reacts “in self-defence”, he said.
The newly announced ceasefire follows the failure of all previous regional initiatives launched to end the advance of the M23 in recent months in North Kivu.
On March 3 in Luanda, the Angolan presidency, designated by the African Union as a mediator in this crisis, announced a new timetable for the cessation of hostilities, starting on Tuesday at noon with the cessation of fighting “in the entire eastern region of the DRC. “.
The mostly Tutsi M23 rebellion, dormant for almost a decade, took up arms again at the end of 2021. Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of supporting it, which has been corroborated by UN experts, although Kigali constantly denies it.