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Eastern DRC: 7 dead in gun battle, fighting against M23

Eastern DRC: 7 dead in gun battle, fighting against M23
An Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldier takes part in ...   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

At least seven people were killed in an exchange of fire on Saturday evening in North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting on Sunday pitted the army against M23 rebels, several local sources said.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting, which took place in Nyiragongo territory, in a camp for displaced people just north of the provincial capital Goma, are unclear.

"The perpetrators have not been identified", said a hospital source, reporting seven dead - four civilians and three soldiers - and eleven wounded.

According to the territory's police administrator, Colonel Patrick Iduma, "indigenous" militiamen fired "to frighten off the displaced people occupying their plots".

According to eyewitness accounts given by Pascal Harerimana, president of local civil society, the perpetrators "were dressed in the new uniforms of soldiers who had recently come to the front". He added that the dead included civilians who were in a bar.

The province of North Kivu has been in the grip of a rebellion for two years, led by the M23 ("March 23 Movement") and supported by Rwanda, according to many sources. Since early October, the army fighting the rebels has been allied with so-called "patriot" militiamen ("wazalendo").

Last weekend, at least six people were killed and a dozen wounded in a "dispute" that degenerated between Congolese soldiers and "wazalendo" in the same Nyiragongo territory.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring territory of Masisi, fighting was reported on Sunday between the army and rebels, after a few days' respite in the clashes."The M23 attacked us this morning in Karenga", next to Virunga Park, said a security source. The soldiers were dislodged from their position, "but we are going to recover the area", said the same source.

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