M23 rebels killed at least eight civilians on Tuesday, June 21, in an attack on Bikenge and Ruvumu in Rutshuru territory of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources revealed.
According to local civil society sources, the rebels killed the victims with locally made weapons. They also used gunfire, and dropped bombs in the region during the attacks against the DR Congo national army, FARDC.
Families of the victims have demanded the cessation of hostilities to enable them to bury their dead.
Jean Damascene, a civil society activist in the area, said the victims’ corpses were still at the scenes where the incident happened.
It is difficult to access the area or bury the dead following an order prohibiting access to the zone.
“Eight well-identified persons died on Tuesday during clashes between the FARDC and the M23,” Damascene said, as he added that there are still those trapped in the zone under the control of M23.
“It is difficult to go and bury the dead because the army does not authorise access to the zone. The M23 does not also authorise people to leave the zone under their control,” he said.
“We ask that there be a cessation of hostilities so that people can go and bury their dead. Right now, there is calm even though people are not authorised to access the zone.”
A resident in the region, Aime Mukanda, told HumAngle that Tuesday’s attack had displaced many people. “Early this Tuesday morning, M23 rebels and their Rwandan allies committed genocide against the population towards the east of Rutshuru territory, precisely at Bikenge and Ruvumu,” Mukanda said and condemned the act.
“The inhabitants of the locality of Bikenge, in the Kisigari tribal group have been massively displaced.
“We condemn this ignoble act and call on the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to conduct investigations so that those guilty can face trial at International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide against the civilian population.”
The army is yet to make a statement on the incident.
Meanwhile, Bunagana and Chengerero, two big towns of the region that the M23 rebels took over, are still under their control.
Lt.-Gen. Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu, has banned the import and export of goods from the border in Bunagana, while the M23 has been authorising the crossing of the border since it took control on June 13, 2022.
The rebels are allowing the border crossing to enable final-year school children to sit for their end-of-course exams that would start soon.
The provincial parliamentarians of North Kivu, who are the elected representatives of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories, have called on the international community to demand the withdrawal of the M23 rebels from Congolese territory.
In a declaration made in Goma on Monday, June 20, 2022, the elected representatives of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo saluted the patriotism manifested by the residents of the region. They called on them to desist from all acts of xenophobia and violence.
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