Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Tensions remain high in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This morning, February 9, new clashes are reported between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and M23 rebels along the Kitshanga - Sake road about 10 km from the latter. The fighting has created general panic in the town of Sake, from where a number of people are heading towards Goma and Minova, further increasing the number of displaced people welcomed in and around the capital of North Kivu.
Meanwhile, the toll of the assault on the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of the Congo (MONUSCO) convoy on February 7 worsens. In fact, there are 8 and not 3 as previously reported (see Fides, 8/2/2023) victims among the attackers, who came from the displaced persons camp in Kanyaruchinya, not far from Goma. The number of wounded is 28.
The new toll was released yesterday, February 8, by the military governor of North Kivu, Lt. Gen. Ndima Kongba Constant. According to the military governor's official statement, "Around 6 p.m. local time, a MONUSCO convoy from Rutshuru was stopped by war displaced persons living in Kanyaruchinya camp in the Buvira group because they wanted to know the convoy's vehicle load. Faced with MONUSCO's refusal, the population barricaded the road, thus preventing them from advancing toward Goma. Faced with this situation, the UN military in charge of security fired some warning shots that unfortunately caused the death of 8 civilians in addition to 28 wounded".
Both MONUSCO and the new military force deployed by the East African Community of States (EAC) are at the center of the protests that erupted in Goma, where several demonstrators took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of foreign military personnel accused of passivity or even complicity with the M23 rebels. The EAC military mission was approved on June 20 during a meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Community. The project plans to deploy a joint military force with a minimum of 6,500 to a maximum of 12,000 soldiers commanded by a Kenyan general based in Goma, with the task of "containing, defeating and eradicating the negative forces" (armed groups) acting in North and South Kivu, in Ituri and in Haut-Uélé. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/2/2023)