M23 Accuses FARDC, Coalition of Striking Positions of Displaced Locals

M23 rebels are accusing the Congolese government troops-the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and their militia coalition of using fighter jets and heavy artillery to strike positions hosting displaced civilians in Bwiza and surrounding groupings in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.

The rebels say that FARDC used Sukhoi fighter jets and BM Grad Rocket Launchers on Wednesday to shell their positions. In his statement issued on Wednesday night, the M23 political spokesperson, Lawrence Kanyuka accused FARDC and its militia coalition of Mai Mai, Nyatura, Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (PARECO), and The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) of targeting displaced civilians under their protection.

According to Kanyuka, FARDC and the coalition want the displaced civilians to get scared of the heavy shelling by warplanes and launchers so that they can run away. Kanyuka accuses FARDC and the coalition of the continuous violation of the Luanda agreement, which requires a cease-fire of the belligerents. 

He explains that M23 has scheduled a meeting with officials of the East African Community Regional Force slated to take place this Saturday to discuss the matter as well as more commitments towards the implementation of the Luanda and Nairobi agreements. Meanwhile, Rwanda has issued a statement accusing the DR Congo Air force of again violating its airspace. 

A statement issued by the office of the Rwandan Government spokesperson on Wednesday night claims that a Sukhoi-25 fighter jet crossed from DR Congo’s side of Goma to the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu at around midday before it returned. Rwandan security fired shells at the warplane before it crossed back to DR Congo. Rwanda claims that this is the second violation of Rwandan air space by Congolese jet fighters. 

According to Rwanda, the repeated violations are against the spirit of Luanda and Nairobi peace initiatives. DR Congo is yet to respond to the claims. On November 7, 2022, a DRC fighter jet of the same type briefly touched down at Rubavu Airport in Rwanda before flying back to DRC. Rwanda and DR Congo are currently at loggerheads over the M23 rebels.

DR Congo accuses Rwanda of backing M23 rebels who are conquering various areas of Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, and Masisi territories in North Kivu province. Rwanda strongly refutes the accusations.

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