KABALE – The M23 rebels have claimed that they had captured Nyamilima town in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu Province in the Eastern DR Congo.
The town is located 19 kilometres from the Ishasha-Kanungu border between Uganda and the DRC. Area residents said that the first column of the rebels entered the town using Kibarabara road and deployed at a defence base, which the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo -FARDC abandoned nearly two and a half months.
The base had been recently occupied by local self-defence-armed men to stop M23 from advancing. Another resident who only identified himself as Kavadel says that another column of rebels who were firing gunshots proceeded towards Humule as they patrolled the whole town.
The other says he saw rebels entering from the street commonly known as Kivisire and headed towards the church of the Christian Assembly that hosts a local radio station. He says that the M23 did not meet resistance from local self-defence-armed men who have since fled the area.
Major Willy Ngoma, the M23 military spokesperson confirmed the capture of Nyamilima but did not divulge details about the matter. The Democratic Republic of Congo army is also yet to make a comment about the same.
The capture of Nyamirima, which gives M23 rebels more chances of capturing the Ishasha border, comes a day after the group captured Kisharo also in Binza Groupement after heavy fighting with self-defence armed men.
The capture of Kibumba came in preparation for the handover of the second position of Rumangabo in Rutshuru territory to the East African Community Regional Force, an event planned to take place on Thursday, according to a statement released on Wednesday by Lawrence Kanyuka, the M23 rebels’ political spokesperson.
The East African Community Regional forces have already arrived in Rumangabo pending the official handover. The presence of M23 in North Kivu province has soared the impasse between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, as DRC authorities accuse the Kagame administration of backing the rebels. Rwanda has since denied the accusations.
Rwanda has repeatedly claimed that Congo’s accusations were baseless but an escalating dispute between the neighbours has revived old animosities.
Kigali has however 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.
Fighting between the government forces and the army intensified over the last couple of weeks, after the Congolese government designated the M23 as a terrorist group and refused their calls for a bilateral ceasefire or peace negotiations.
“The goal pursued by Rwanda is to occupy Bunagana in order not only to asphyxiate the city of Goma but also to put pressure on the Congolese government,” noted, a statement.
The M23 claim that it is seeking the DR Congo government to honour a peace agreement signed in 2013, which allows the reintegration of the armed forces into society, denounces hate speech, and repatriation all refugees among other issues.