Rebels of the M23 movement have captured several villages under the protection of the DR Congo national army, FARDC, in the Jomba tribal group of Rutshuru territory in North Kivu.
“The Runyonyi and Chanzu hills were conquered on Monday. Our forces have been dislodged. The two hills are very strategic,” a senior FARDC military officer told HumAngle on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the army.
Among the villages captured by the M23 rebels are Chengerero which was occupied on Tuesday morning, March 29. Chengerero is an administrative village hosting several state offices within the Jomba tribal group.
“Nearby, we have the villages of Mugingo, Gasiza, the Jomba parish all of which have been captured by the M23 rebels. In Chengerero, which has been an administrative village since the colonial era, several government offices,” the source said.
“The villages of Rugamba, Kibote, Baseke and Kabindi are also under the control of M23 right now.”
For now, the border town of Bunagana is still under the control of the FARDC but several inhabitants of the town have fled towards the Uganda border while others are heading to Rutshuru Centre and Kiwanja, and others are in Rangira already.
“Bunagana is in danger now because it has been encircled by the M23 rebels which continue to progress and have already arrived at the Rwanguba hospital which is 15 kilometres to Bunagana. The M23 rebels have overcome our armed forces,” another security source said.
Jackson Gachuki, the chief of the Jomba tribal group, said local authorities avoid making any official statements on the situation on the ground “because the situation is bad.”
On Monday, March 28, FARDC hierarchy accused Rwanda of supporting M23 which launched the offensive against their positions. The FARDC presented two persons they allegedly captured at the front and whom they said were senior Rwandan army officers, an allegation Rwanda has rejected as false.
This new front opens as North Kivu province is under a state of siege and placed under military rule.
Last week, the army bombarded positions presented as the “command headquarters of M23 in Rutshuru territory”. The following day, the M23 reacted indicating that they “regret the violence imposed on the people in spite of several correspondences of peaceful overtures addressed to the authorities”.
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