GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo — M23 rebels within the Democratic Republic of Congo have seized the jap border city of Bunagana, native activists stated on Monday, sending greater than 30,000 civilians fleeing into neighboring Uganda.
The seize of Bunagana marked a serious setback for Congolese forces who stated a day earlier they’d the insurgents on the run.
The United Nations and African Union voiced alarm concerning the mounting violence in a area the place conflicts within the Nineteen Nineties and 2000s value tens of millions of lives, largely from illness and starvation, and spawned dozens of militias that stay lively to at the present time.
Bunagana was an M23 stronghold throughout a 2012 rebellion that briefly overran the foremost metropolis of Goma earlier than Congolese and UN forces chased the rebels into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda the next yr.
The workplace of North Kivu’s navy governor stated on Sunday that Congolese forces had “routed” the M23 following early-morning assaults close to Bunagana, which is likely one of the principal crossings into Uganda.
However Jean-Baptise Twizere, the president of an area civil society group, stated the city fell to the rebels on Sunday night time.
“Congolese troopers who discovered themselves encircled by enemies in Bunagana couldn’t do something and since 11 p.m. they’ve left town,” he instructed Reuters on Monday from Bunagana.
Edgard Mateso, the vice chairman of an advocacy group in North Kivu province, confirmed the M23 takeover.
Normal Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesman for North Kivu’s navy authorities, stated he didn’t but have any data.
The preventing prompted greater than 30,000 Congolese asylum seekers and 137 Congolese troopers to cross into Uganda on Monday, Shaffiq Sekandi, Uganda’s resident district commissioner for Kisoro district, instructed Reuters.
“They’re throughout, the streets are full, others have gone to church buildings, they’re below bushes, all over the place. It’s a very determined scenario,” he stated.
The United Nations had beforehand stated that 25,000 individuals fled the violence on Sunday.
A spokesperson for UN Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres stated he was involved about deteriorating safety in jap Congo, together with M23 assaults. The area has seen near-constant battle since Rwanda and Uganda invaded twice within the Nineteen Nineties.
African Union Fee Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat known as for an instantaneous cessation of hostilities and for talks between Congo and Rwanda to resolve a rising diplomatic disaster.
Congolese authorities on Sunday renewed accusations that Rwanda has been backing the most recent offensive by the M23, whose management hails from the identical Tutsi ethnic group as Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Rwanda has denied offering any help and accused Congo of collaborating with one other militia group based by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after collaborating within the 1994 genocide. Congo denies this cost.
Throughout the 2012-2013 battle, Congo and UN investigators accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the M23, which they denied.
On Monday, two senior Congolese safety sources, who requested to not be named, additionally accused the Ugandan navy of supporting the M23’s offensive.
Twizere stated he had seen Ugandan troops cross the border to dam the Congolese military’s entry to Bunagana.
Uganda’s military spokesman Brigadier Felix Kulayigye denied any involvement. “We’re solely carefully watching what’s occurring from throughout the border and we now have been in that place for months,” he stated.
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