At least eight people, including five women and two children, were killed in an attack on Wednesday in a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to local sources contacted by AFP.
"Around one o'clock in the morning, eight civilians were killed" in Bungushu, in the province of North Kivu, said on condition of anonymity a member of the local Red Cross present on the spot. At least four of them "were killed with axes", he added, adding that the bodies of four others had "been found in toilets" (latrine holes).
A member of civil society confirms this assessment, also on condition of anonymity. He does not specify the identity of the assailants but declares that Tuesday evening, "elements of the M23 (Movement of March 23, armed group mainly Tutsi) were visible in the city".
The Kivu Security Barometer (KST), a network of analysts based in eastern DRC, said on its Twitter account that "the M23 is suspected" of having committed this attack against civilians during "the pursuit of a Nyatura CMC (combatant), a predominantly Hutu armed group operating in the area.
Isaac Kibira, an administrative official of the Tongo groupement, in which Bungushu is located, told AFP that "M23 elements made an incursion into the village of Bungushu and massacred the population, more or less nine people lost their life".
Yet suspected of having committed this attack, the M23 condemned Wednesday in a press release "the killings (...) which took place on the night of July 4 to 5, 2023, in Bungushu, Tongo and their surroundings", in attributing to "Kinshasa government forces".
The M23 rebellion took up arms again at the end of 2021 and seized large swaths of territory in North Kivu, in eastern DRC bordering Rwanda and Uganda. From the start, Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of arming this rebellion and fighting alongside it, which UN experts have corroborated, although Kigali denies it.
"The murders and rapes committed relentlessly by the M23 are encouraged by the military support that Rwandan commanders provide to the rebel armed group", affirmed the American organization Human Rights Watch in a report published in June.
At the end of last year, the UN for its part accused the M23 of having killed more than 170 civilians in November in the village of Kishishe, about fifteen km north of Bungushu.