Heavy fighting has erupted between the troops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government, FARDC and the Rwandan Government backed M23 rebels in Kahunga and Mabenga near the M23 rebels stronghold town of Kiwandja, in North-Kivu, Eastern DRC, sources within M23 rebels command told AfroAmerica Network.
According to the sources, the fighting, with heavy artillery, started on Thursday September 26, 2013 and lasted close to an hour, before the M23 rebels abandoned their positions.
“We attacked the FARDC troops who have been trying to reinforce their positions in the town of Mabenga. We want to show the DRC government and the international community that we are still here; that they need to acknowledge our demands,” one M23 commander told AfroAmerica Network.
“We are not happy that the Kampala negotiations are stalled and that the so-called high-level meeting held in New York on Monday, September 23, 2013 on the implementation of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in the DRC and the region, instead of tackling the problem, chose to condemn and criminalize our leaders,” the M23 Commander added.
However, other sources within FARDC and from the local population said that the M23 rebels were attacked by the FARDC while trying to set up and reinforce their positions on the axis of Mabenga-Kiwanja-Ishasha-Kinyandonyi. According to the sources, the FARDC used heavy artillery and killed at least two M23 rebels and injured a score. The rebels fled to their stronghold of Kiwandja.
In a statement sent to the press, M23 rebels leader, Bertrand Bisimwa, accused the FARDC of seeking to undermine the Kampala negotiations by starting a war. The talks between the Congolese government and M23 rebels resumed on Tuesday September 10, 2013. M23 rebels have set two conditions: neutralizing the Rwandan rebels of the FDLR and the return of Congolese Tutsi refugees.
On its side, the DRC government has published a list of 100 military M23 leaders who would not be integrated within the FARDC because of being Rwandan, repeat offenders, war criminals and recruiting child soldiers.
©2013 AfroAmerica Network. All Rights Reserved.