M23 rebels seize town in eastern DR Congo

BBC News

Fighters from the M23 rebel group have captured the town of Nyanzale from the military in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We are now in Nyanzale, the enemy has fled,” rebel spokesperson Willy Ngoma told the BBC Great Lakes service.

Army commander Jerome Chico Tshitambwe confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Nyanzale has been taken by the rebels.

Nyanzale, which is about 130km (80 miles) north of the city of Goma, had been a place of refuge for people displaced by fighting in surrounding areas.

But earlier this week thousands of them fled again when Nyanzale came under fire.

Mr Ngoma said many had now returned to the town.

Isaac Kibira, a deputy to the governor in the nearby town of Bambo, said M23 had been firing “indiscriminately” before taking Nyanzale.

“It is since the morning that we noticed the capture of Nyanzale by the M23, and the death toll rose to 15,” Mr Kibira told Reuters.

The M23, formed as an offshoot of another rebel group, began operating in 2012 – ostensibly to protect the local Tutsi population that has long complained of persecution and discrimination.

Its fighters took up arms again in 2021, saying promises in an earlier peace deal had been broken. M23 fighters are well equipped, but the group denies being a Rwandan proxy.

On Monday, the European Union said it was “extremely concerned by the escalation of violence” and called for dialogue between DR Congo and Rwanda in order to tackle the root causes of the conflict.

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