DR Congo jets bomb M23 rebels in the east

DR Congo jets bomb M23 rebels in the east


DR Congo’s military on Tuesday used newly deployed jets to bomb M23 positions in the east of the country, officials said, with some residents of rebel-held territory fleeing across the border.

The M23, a predominantly Congolese Tutsi group, first rose to prominence in 2012 when they briefly seized the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) capital of Goma before being expelled.

After lying dormant for years, the group took up arms again in late 2021, claiming that the DRC had failed, among other things, in a pledge to integrate them into the army.

M23 rebels have won a string of victories against the Congolese army in North Kivu province in recent weeks, dramatically increasing the territory they control.

Their resurgence has shattered ties between the DRC and its smaller neighbor Rwanda, which accuses Kinshasa of supporting the M23.

On Tuesday, a Congolese security official, who asked not to be identified, said warplanes would bomb the rebel-held Tchanzu area of ??North Kivu and would carry on “all day”.

A resident of the strategic town of Bunagana on the Uganda border – which the M23 captured in June – confirmed to AFP that the planes had attacked the area.

“Every man for himself,” he said, describing how the town’s residents fled across the border into Uganda.

Damien Sebuzanane, a local civil society representative, also said that Bunagana residents had fled.

The DRC dispatched two Sukhoi-25 jets to the troubled east over the weekend after the M23 captured a number of settlements along a key highway leading to Goma.

One of the planes violated Rwandan airspace on Monday – although Kinshasa said the incident was a mistake and not intentional.

Despite official denials from Kigali, an unpublished report for the United Nations submitted to AFP in August indicated Rwanda’s involvement in the M23.

The report also said that the M23 plans to seize Goma to extort political concessions from the government in Kinshasa.

– diplomacy –

Neither the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo nor the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUSCO, had officially commented on the bombings as of late Monday.

The M23 claimed the Congolese government sent fighter jets and helicopters to “bomb densely populated areas and kill innocent people”.

It also accused the government of trampling on dialogue efforts.

Several diplomatic initiatives are underway to try to ease tensions in eastern DRC, including one by the seven-nation East African Community, which is about to launch its own peacekeeping mission in the region.

The regional bloc said on Monday that East African leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict in eastern Congo.

More to explorer