Congolese M23 rebels cross over from Uganda, take village

Members of the M23 rebel group waiting at a Ugandan army air base to be flown to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 (AFP Photo/ISAAC KASAMANI)
Members of the M23 rebel group waiting at a Ugandan army air base to be flown to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 (AFP Photo/ISAAC KASAMANI)

Armed Congolese rebels who had taken refuge in neighbouring Uganda crossed the border overnight prompting fears that a guerrilla conflict put to rest in 2013 could be rekindled, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government said on Sunday.

Speaking to AFP, the Democratic Republic of Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said that at least 200 members of M23, an ethnic Tutsi group defeated by the Congolese army three years ago, arrived from Uganda and took over a village in North Kivu province.

Mende said the Congolese army was fighting two battalions installed in Ishasha village “who were supposed to be in Uganda under the responsibility of that country’s authorities”.

“How could our Ugandan neighbours, with whom we are bound by very serious commitments, allow people who had been living in refugee camps to cross over — armed — into our territory?” he added.

One of the battalions was led by a former army general, a former army general, Sultani Makenga, Kinshasa said.

No military spokesperson was available to confirm the clashes with M23. Omar Kavota, director of the Centre for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights said Sunday that sources in Ishasha had confirmed the M23 presence there but said “there hasn’t been fighting or clashes yet”.