At least 19 people killed in fierce DRC army, M23 rebels clashes

Friday January 26 2024

People look on as soldiers head towards the front lines against a clash with M23 rebels near the village of Kanyamahoro, Democratic Republic of Congo on May 25, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) town of Mweso in Masisi, North Kivu Province is still reeling from the tragic deaths of 19 people following bombardments from a clash between the Congolese army and M23 rebel group on Thursday.

Both sides trade blame for the deaths with Congolese troops accusing M23 of turning on civilians after losing on the battlefield, claims the rebels denied.

According to the Congolese army (FARDC), some 27 other people were injured in the bombardments. 

"The rebels, having realised that they had lost control of the town of Mweso, dropped 120 mm mortar bombs indiscriminately in the town, causing the death of 19 people and wounding 27 innocent civilians", according to a statement by Lt-Col Ndjike Kaiko Guillaume, spokesman for the Congolese army in North Kivu.

Read: M23 rebels seize strategic East DRC town

The war in Kivu between the FARDC and the M23 continues, causing massive population displacements.


According to the UN, nearly 7 million civilians have already fled their villages throughout the DRC because of the insecurity caused by armed groups and the fighting.

Meanwhile, peace initiatives in the region have stalled. Neither the Nairobi process, which called for talks between the armed groups and the government in Kinshasa nor has the Luanda process, led by Angola's President João Lourenço, has produced expected results.

The Luanda process was supposed to bring peace between the DRC and Rwanda.

In the war in North Kivu, the Congolese authorities accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23 with men and weapons. Several UN reports have affirmed this, but the Rwandan authorities reject these accusations.

At present, it is the US authorities who are trying to bring peace between Kigali and Kinshasa. In December 2023, US imposed a ceasefire that lasted for two weeks. However, fighting has resumed since then.

The M23 has joined forces with the new Alliance Fleuve Congo coalition led by former electoral commission chairperson Corneille Nangaa while the DRC army has been reinforced by SADC troops.

Read: DR Congo declares new ‘war’ on M23

This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on tour in Africa, is expected to discuss security issues in the DRC with Lourenço. Before launching his African tour, Blinken met Rwanda's President Paul Kagame at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland.

"We are determined to do everything in our power to support the efforts being made, particularly by Angola and Kenya, towards a peaceful resolution of disagreements and the prevention of conflict in the eastern DRC", Blinken said during his meeting with Kagame.

Blinken's tour did not include a visit to Kinshasa, but he spoke on the phone with DRC President Félix Tshisekedi about security issues in the east of the DRC among other things.