A soldier and six Mai-Mai militiamen died in clashes Thursday in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ugandan border, the Congolese army said.
Since the beginning of 2017, Mai-Mai militias have regularly attacked Congolese army positions in the region.
The latest clashes between government forces and the militia began at around 8am (0600 GMT), local residents in Kasindi, in North Kivu province, said.
We regret the death of a soldier, three others are wounded, six militia have been killed and three others captured
Kasindi houses one of the main customs posts in the eastern DRC and which processes a large flow of merchandise from Uganda.
“We regret the death of a soldier, three others are wounded, six militia have been killed and three others captured,” said a regional spokesperson for the military, Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi.
“Calm has been restored after several hours of fighting with heavy and light weapons,” he said. “The army is in control of the situation.”
Local media reported that a Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) and two submachine guns from the Congolese army were seized by the rebels during the surprise raid.
DR Congo’s huge eastern region has long been plagued by violence, but fighting between government soldiers and militia groups, as well as inter-ethnic clashes, has increased significantly this year.
North Kivu province has seen a particular surge in killings and kidnappings between rival ethnic groups.
Six people, including two soldiers, died last month in clashes between the army and Mai-Mai militiamen in North Kivu.
The Mai-Mai became prominent as armed community militias during the Second Congo War (1998-2003).
They teamed up with the Kinshasa government to battle invading troops, notably from Rwanda as well as foreign rebels. Some Mai-Mai forces never gave up the weapons they got from the regime.
In Uganda, authorities reassured residents of the towns bordering Congo to remain calm following the Ugandan army’s pre-emptive attack and the latest Mai Mai attack.
Ugandan army kills 100 ADF rebels in DR Congo https://t.co/5MuyAchCmC— africanews (@africanews) December 27, 2017
The army spokesperson for the Hima-Based 305 brigade, Favourite Rugumayo, said the army was in charge of the border.
“There is no insecurity that will befall you,” Rugumayo said.