Democratic Republic of the Congo
UN Peacekeeping Mission Condemns M23 For Latest Offensive In DRC’s Kitshanga
The United Nations (UN) peace keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has condemned M23 rebels for recent clashes in the east of the country that forced more than 400 people to seek refuge around its base in Kitshanga town, reported The Aljazeera.
“The M23 must cease all hostility and withdraw from occupied areas, in accordance with the roadmap set out in the Luanda mini-summit,” the MONUSCO mission said on Twitter on Thursday.
The UN statement comes after the M23 rebels seized the strategic town of Kitshanga in the eastern DRC after days of fierce fighting.
On Friday, the DRC’s army confirmed that it has withdrawn its forces from the area, calling it a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel fighters.
The recent armed uprising has stoked regional tensions, with DRC accusing Rwanda of backing and sponsoring the Tutsi-led rebellion. The UN experts and the European Union have also accused Rwanda of backing the M23. Kigali, however, continues to deny any involvement.
Last year in November, regional leaders brokered an agreement under which the rebels were required to withdraw from recently seized positions by January 15 as part of attempts to end the fighting that has displaced at least 450,000 people.
But a UN internal report claims the rebels were flouting the ceasefire. Two witnesses who fled Kitshanga and arrived at the MONUSCO base said the rebels had taken control of the town.
Meanwhile, the M23 said in a statement that it was obliged to intervene to protect Tutsis in Kitshanga and other areas.
The rebels took control of Kitshanga late on Thursday after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital Goma about 90 kilometres (55 miles) apart.
Ndeye Khady Lo, the spokesperson of the UN peace keeping mission, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.