(HorizonPost.com) – Rebels with ties to neighboring Rwanda seized more territory in North Kivu province in eastern Congo last Friday, threatening supply routes to the capital, the Associated Press reported.
After more than two days of fighting government and militia forces, M23 rebels seized the village of Mushaki, forcing civilians to flee, aid workers and local residents said.
According to Africa analyst Benjamin Hunter, last week’s capture of Mushaki threatens the supply routes into the regional capital of Goma. Hunter told the Associated Press that by capturing towns along the major roads, M23 will bring in more money to fund further offensives.
Eastern Congo has been gripped by fighting for decades with over 120 groups battling for land and mineral resources in the region. The fighting intensified in late 2021 when the long-dormant M23 rebels reemerged and started capturing territory.
The group became prominent a decade ago after its fighters captured Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo along the border with Rwanda.
Congo has accused the Rwandan government of supporting M23, an accusation Rwanda denies.
In early February, heads of state in the region called for an immediate ceasefire. However, fighting continues to expand and intensify as both sides blame the other, the AP reported.
Lt. Col. Guillaume Ndjikie, the spokesman for the Congolese army in the east, said the army is honoring the ceasefire, only responding when M23 and the Rwandan army attempt to infiltrate its positions.
Lawrence Kanyuka, the political spokesman for M23, disputed the army’s assertion, arguing that the rebels are only defending themselves against the army and its militias whom he claims are using attack helicopters and artillery to “indiscriminately” bomb areas controlled by M23.
Bearing the brunt of the conflict are civilians in eastern Congo. According to the United Nations, about 5.5 million people in the region have been “internally displaced,” including many who had already been displaced several times.
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