Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



At least 10 people killed as rebels seize a town in Congo's conflict-hit eastern region

At least 10 people killed as rebels seize a town in Congo's conflict-hit eastern region
FILE - A M23 rebels stand with theirs weapons during a ceremony to mark the withdrawal   -  
Copyright © africanews
Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The AP

Democratic Republic Of Congo

A rebel group with alleged links to neighbouring Rwanda seized a town in Congo's conflict-hit eastern region following attacks that killed at least 10 people and displaced thousands, reports said Wednesday.

The seizure of Nyanzale by M23 rebels came after days of fighting with security forces, local civil society leader Jonas Pandasi said. He said thousands of people had fled toward Goma, which is eastern Congo's largest city and the capital of North Kivu province. It is more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) away.

"Initial reports put the death toll at around 10, with houses burnt down and shops looted of their goods. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic as almost the entire village of Nyanzale has moved towards Kikuku," Pandasi said.

It was not immediately clear when the rebel group took control of the town, though M23 announced on the X social media platform Tuesday that Nyanzale "exudes the tranquility and deliverance," suggesting it was overrun then.

M23 controls about half of the North Kivu province, according to Richard Moncrieff, the Crisis Group's Great Lakes region director. The violence in the province has worsened in recent weeks as security forces battle the rebels. Residents have said the group's fighter mostly launch attacks with bombs out of hills overlooking remote towns.

Far from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, eastern Congo has long been overrun by more than 120 armed groups seeking a share of the region's gold and other resources as they carry out mass killings. The result is one of the world's largest humanitarian crises, with about 7 million people displaced, many of them beyond the reach of aid.

The dominant group in the region, M23 rose to prominence just over 10 years ago when its fighters seized Goma, which is on the border with Rwanda. It derives its name from a March 23, 2009, peace deal that it accuses the Congo government of not implementing.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi alleges Rwanda is destabilizing Congo by backing the M23 rebels. U.N. experts have linked the rebels to Rwandan forces. Rwanda denies this.

View more