Following heavy clashes between the army and M23 rebels in Rutshuru, near the Ugandan border, more than 30,000 people have fled their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the UN’s humanitarian affairs office, approximately 5,000 people have fled to Uganda, while 25,000 others are camping in schools and churches in Rwanguba, Kabindi, and Kinoni areas of Rutshuru.
The army and the insurgents accuse each other of starting the fighting and both claim victory in the Sunday clashes.
The army said in a statement that it now controls the border town of Bunagana.
However, M23 spokesperson Willy Ngoma stated that they killed many government soldiers and that others had left their weapons behind while fleeing to areas near Bunagana.
The army accused Rwanda of assisting the rebels’ takeover of Bunagana. Rwandan officials have consistently denied any involvement with the M23 rebels.
Rwandan and Congolese armies accused each other of shelling across the border on Saturday.
The Rwandan government denies playing any role in M23’s recent attacks, but has echoed M23 charges that Congo is cooperating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group run by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after taking part in the 1994 genocide.
It should be recalled that two soldiers were killed last Monday in fighting against M23 militants in eastern Congo, the latest violence in a long-standing conflict that has escalated in recent weeks and caused a diplomatic rift with Rwanda.
This clash occurred after suspected Insurgents from another rebel group raided a village in neighboring Ituri province on Sunday, killing at least 18 people, according to local sources.
According to a witness, a local chief, and a local human rights group, fighters believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed residents and burned down houses in Otomabere.
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