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M23 and Congolese army resume battle

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M23 rebel group and the Congolese army have resumed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Clashes had been quiet for about a week following the M23’s most recent offensive in late October. Following its first major insurgency in 2012/13, the rebel group has made a major comeback this year, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes.

The fighting has caused a diplomatic rift between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda, which Congo accuses of backing the M23. Rwanda denies this.

A senior army officer on condition of anonymity said: “We are currently shelling their positions and we are going to take back the localities under the control of the M23.”

Fighting was reported on several fronts in Rutshuru territory, in east Congo’s North Kivu province, on Friday morning. Some of the clashes were in Virunga National Park near the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru, civilians and the M23 said.

Congo’s army spokesman for North Kivu declined to comment.

One of the leaders of the M23, Bertrand Bisimwa, said on Twitter that fighting had resumed and accused the Congolese army of working with another rebel group, the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and various local militias. Congo has denied backing the FDLR.

The conflict stems from the long fallout from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The M23 group is Tutsi-led, while the FDLR is composed of ethnic Hutus.

Aimed at easing political tensions caused by the conflict, officials from Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda held talks at the weekend in Angola.

 

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