A Kenyan soldier from the regional East African force deployed in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed on Tuesday in fighting between pro-government armed groups and M23 rebels, the force said on Wednesday.
"Shrapnel wounded a soldier, who unfortunately succumbed to his injuries while receiving treatment in Goma", the provincial capital of North Kivu, a source in the EACRF (East African Community Regional Force) told AFP.
"No armed group has directly targeted the Kenyan contingent since its deployment", this source added, denying reports that Kenyan soldiers had been ambushed.
According to sources on the ground, the front was calm on Wednesday morning.
However, the day before, violent clashes broke out some twenty kilometres north of Goma between the M23 rebels, the Congolese army and groups of fighters calling themselves "patriots" ("wazalendo"). The army engaged a fighter plane against the rebels.
"The M23 fought the wazalendo with mortar fire. A shell landed near Kenyan soldiers" deployed to "protect civilians", explained the EACRF source.
On Monday evening, the Congolese army announced the death of an EACRF soldier, without specifying his nationality but accusing the M23 of being responsible for the fatal shot.
The M23 ("March 23 Movement") is a mainly Tutsi rebellion, supported by Rwanda according to many sources, which took up arms again at the end of 2021 after several years of dormancy and has seized vast swathes of territory in North Kivu in the east of the DRC.
The East African force, which includes Kenyan, Ugandan, Burundian and South Sudanese soldiers, has been deployed in the region since November 2022.
Like the UN mission, which has been present in the DRC for 24 years, it is heavily criticised by Kinshasa for failing to force the rebels to lay down their arms