Seven villagers die in DR Congo attack blamed on rebelsWed, 08 May 2024 19:03:41 GMT

M23 rebels have bombed a village in DR Congo’s South Kivu province killing seven people and wounding six more, local officials said Wednesday.The Tutsi-led rebels have seized swathes of neighbouring North Kivu over the last two years but now appear to be extending their operations in the neighbouring province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.Clashes were also reported on Wednesday from around Sake, a key town about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from North Kivu’s capital Goma.”A bomb launched by the rebels from Masisi territory fell on ¬†Kisongati village in Kalehe territory”, on Tuesday said Archimed Karhebwa, the local deputy administrator.The blast left “seven dead and six wounded”, he added.A civil society representative said three women, one child and three men had died.”People are living in fear,” said Karhebwa, recalling a similar explosion last week at Minova, a nearby town that shelters thousands displaced by fighting in Masisi over recent months.”We are in a state of alert… we urge people to remain calm, the situation is under the control of the army, there are no reports of M23 rebel soldiers on South Kivu’s Kalehe territory,” he said.After eight years of dormancy, the M23 rebellion took up arms again in late 2021 and have virtually encircled Goma. According to Kinshasa, the United Nations and Western countries, neighbouring Rwanda is backing the M23, something Kigali denies.Last Friday, about 10 people died at a camp for displaced persons on the outskirts of Goma, along the road to Sake, in an attack the United States said was carried out by Rwanda Defence Forces and M23 positions.The Kigali government denied the charge saying it had a “professional army” that would “never attack” such a camp.Fighting flared around Sake in February and the M23 has since taken over more localities on Masisi territory.Last week the rebels captured from government forces the mining town of Rubaya, in North Kivu.Rubaya’s mines contain strategic minerals used in electronics, including coltan.”The M23 continues to advance towards the north of North Kivu but also towards South Kivu,” the UN’s DR Congo humanitarian coordinator Bruno Lemarquis said last week.The UN estimated at the end of 2023 that nearly seven million people had been displaced in DR Congo, including 2.5 million in North Kivu alone.