KINSHASA (Health & Fitness Journal) – DRC forces said on Thursday M23 rebels and their allies killed 50 civilians in a massacre in the eastern city of Kishishe this week, which the M23 denied.
Congo’s army and the M23, a Tutsi-led militia, have been fighting in the country’s troubled east for months, accusing each other of instigating attacks.
“The M23 movement rejects the baseless allegations leveled against them in Kishishe,” the group’s political spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, said in a statement.
“The M23 is a reminder to the international and national community that it has never targeted civilians,” he said.
The United Nations and a US diplomat also said they had information on Tuesday’s civilian killings in Kishishe, North Kivu province, but gave no details. Both called for an investigation.
“We are deeply saddened by the massacre of civilians in Kishishe, which may constitute a war crime,” Stephanie Miley, chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kinshasa, said on Twitter.
A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said the UN had received reports of human rights abuses during clashes between the M23 and local militias in Kishishe, resulting in large numbers of civilian casualties.
Congo and UN experts say neighboring Rwanda supports the M23, something Rwanda has consistently denied. The two countries held talks in Angola last week to find solutions to the conflict.
One of their agreements was that a regional force from the East African Community (EAC) would intervene against the M23 if they did not stop fighting and withdraw from their positions.
The EAC began deploying troops to eastern Congo earlier this year to help fight various armed groups. A South Sudan army spokesman said Thursday a battalion of 700 South Sudanese troops would be dispatched to join the regional force.
Earlier Thursday, thousands of people took to the streets of Goma and Bukavu, the two main cities in eastern Congo, to protest the deteriorating security situation.