Congo’s mission to the U.N. did not return calls seeking comment.
The locality of Bunagana, border post with Uganda in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fell Friday at the hands of mutineers of the M23 after fighting against the Congolese army, we learned from the rebels and police source.
“We took Bunagana around 06H00? (0400 GMT), told AFP Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the M23 (March 23 Movement), whose mutineers claims “The mutineers have taken control of the entire locality.
All the population as well as the military (Congolese) are in Uganda “, told AFP a police source on the spot. “It’s over, the locality is occupied by the rebels.
We are all crowded here on the Ugandan side, “told an inhabitant of Bunagana. The Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) led an offensive on Thursday against mutineers, but the latter had claimed to have “repulsed” the loyalist forces.
Bunagana is located about 10 km northeast of mutinous positions, grouped since May on several hills in the southeast of the Virunga National Park, border with Uganda and Rwanda, about fifty km flying bird north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu. “We are evacuating the city.
We will leave the M23 police on the spot, “said the spokesman for the mutineers at the end of the morning. Since May, the mutineers, from the former rebellion of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), are grouped in this region and regularly face the FARDC. The last clash before Thursday and Friday took place on June 30 and lasted only one day.
CNDP fighters have been integrated into the army as part of a peace agreement with Kinshasa signed on March 23, 2009, whose M23 calls for full implementation.
A UN expert report said the mutineers were supported by senior Rwandan officials, including Defense Minister General James Kabarebe and Chief of Staff General Charles Kayonga.
which would have brought “direct help” to the creation of the M23, by providing mutineers with “weapons, military supplies and new recruits”.
Kigali has always denied any support for the mutiny and rejected this report. “Our intention is not to conquer spaces, let alone to continue the war (…) We do not ask for new negotiations, we rather demand the respect of the commitments made by the government through the agreement of March 23, 2012? said Friday the M23 in a statement.
This renewed violence in eastern DRC has displaced more than 200,000 people and more than 30,000 refugees in Rwanda and Uganda.
The UN Mission in the DRC (Monusco) has strengthened its positions in recent weeks in Bunagana to fulfill its mandate to protect civilians. Neither the civilian spokesman nor the military spokesman of Monusco were reachable Friday morning.