UN peacekeepers on patrol in eastern DR Congo

Goma (DR Congo) (AFP) - Fighting resumed on Friday in eastern DR Congo between M23 rebels and rival armed groups after 10 days of relative calm, civilian and security sources said.

The engagement was reported around Bwiza, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the provincial capital Goma on M23’s western front into Masisi territory.

Similar clashes were reported from the area on December 6 when M23 accepted a ceasefire with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) army and announced readiness to withdraw from areas it had captured recently.

No withdrawal has taken place but the ceasefire has more or less held. But it does not include other armed groups in the region, some of which are trying to stop M23’s advance.

“Fighting has resumed around us at Bwiza”, in the villages of Swagara, Mudugudu and Kabarozi, a Bizwa resident told AFP by telephone. M23 militia had launched the attack, he added.

Th group issued a statement accusing the government coalition of violating the ceasefire.

But a security source said the federal armed forces “are not implicated” in the skirmishes between M23 and other armed groups.

The groups included the pro-Hutu Nyatura and the Patriotic Alliance for a Free and Independent Congo (APCLS), mostly made up of fighters from the Hunde ethnic group, in a coalition dedicated to thwarting M23.

“We have just dislodged the enemy at Swagara,” APCLS spokesman Heritier Ndangendange said.

M23 rebels, a mostly Congolese Tutsi group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after accusing the DRC of having failed to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.

The group has in recent months conquered part of Rutshuru territory near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda, coming within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of north of Goma.

The UN mission in DRC found that 131 men, women and children were shot dead or hacked to death late last month as part of reprisals against the civilian population by M23.

Kinshasa accuses neighbouring Rwanda of supporting the rebels, but Kigali denies the accusation.