Local sources said on Friday that at least 13 civilians were killed in a camp for displaced people in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday night. This occurred in a region where periodic clashes between armed groups and the M23 insurgency continue to take place.
According to recent accounts, the Tutsi-dominated rebel group known as the M23 is responsible for the deaths of 145 individuals. But no credible source contacted on the site reported such a death toll, and local officials accused a pro-Hutu militia known as the “CMC-Nyatura” of being responsible for this attack. The attack targeted the Kisimba camp, which was located 4 kilometers away from Kitshanga in the Rutshuru area (North Kivu province).
“The toll is 13 dead and five wounded; the perpetrators are alleged to be Nyatura,” an administrative officer in Kisimba told AFP on the condition of anonymity. An official with the Red Cross has reported that thirteen people have died and that five others have been injured.
“At first it was said that it was the M23, but after verification, it was the CMC” who assaulted the camp in search of pro-rebels, said a human rights activist, also on condition of anonymity, putting the death toll at 15, with 7 women slain, 3 children, and 5 adults. The CMC was searching for pro-rebels. “Among those killed was my two-and-a-half-year-old son, who was on the back of his mother, who was shot in the legs,” said Hakiza, who lives in the camp and was one of the survivors.
Late in 2021, after nearly a decade of dormancy, the “March 23 Movement,” also known as “M23,” took up arms again. In the previous year, they were successful in seizing vast swaths of territory in the province of North Kivu. According to specialists from the United Nations, Rwanda supported “M23.”
Since December, a regional East African force has retaken several of the rebels’ strongholds, but the insurgents are still active in the region, where they are engaged in combat with armed groups that call themselves “patriots.”
The M23 attack has resulted in the displacement of a significant number of people, which has exacerbated an already precarious humanitarian situation in an area that has been afflicted with violence from a variety of armed groups for close to 30 years.