• Provincial Governor reports 11 insurgents killed
As the operation mounted by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) army, against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) continues, close to a dozen deaths among rebel ranks have been reported.
According to DRC’s North Kivu Provincial Governor Julien Paluku, a recent operation against the insurgents claimed at least 11 FDLR militias and four were captured. The on-going operation is being supported by MONUC, the United Nations Mission in the DRC.
“Operations against them (FDLR) are going on well and recently, the government army killed eleven FDLR and captured four others,” the Governor said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Other reports indicate that Congolese government forces repulsed the rebels in a region of Walikale, liberating over 350 residents in a locality called Bukumbirwa, about 250 kilometers North West from Goma.
The FDRL is a group of Rwandan militias largely made up of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and has been in the DRC for the last 15 years from where they are accused of championing a humanitarian catastrophe.
Despite the ‘triumph’ reported by the governor however, parallel reports indicate that the FDLR continued to ignite fear among the Congolese population.
“They (FDLR) are the source of chaos and the situation remains very bad here, they are killing many people. They, over the last weekend, killed many people in Walikale region. The situation is really bad,” Congolese journalist Tuver Wundi told The New Times from the provincial capital Goma, yesterday.
Subsequent to the attacks and different forms of mistreatment by the FDLR, Congolese citizens have resorted to street protests over what is seen as their government’s failure to protect them from the FDLR.
“People demonstrated here in Goma saying that if government does not do anything to protect them from the FDLR, they (Congolese) will bring back the Mai-Mai militias to protect them. It is really a problem now,” said Wundi, adding that the people called on government to work harder in providing security.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced on Saturday that it is supporting Congolese government forces (FARDC) in an ongoing effort to flush out FDLR which is committing atrocities against civilians in the east of the vast country.
MONUC, helped the FARDC plan an attack against the notorious force and supplied support units, the mission said in a news release.
The offensive, launched last week, involved an aerial manoeuvre targeting the Lubero Territory in the embattled North Kivu province, where FDLR rebels have been operating since the end of the 1994 genocide that left over 1,000,000 lives lost.
The FDLR has been retaliating against civilians and attacking villages in North Kivu, committing rape and other human rights abuses which have forced close to 400,000 people from their homes, according to recent reports from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
MONUC said that the objective of this latest operation is to put pressure on the FDLR and prevent threats against vulnerable populations in the area, adding that the success of the strike will be determined at a later date.
Meanwhile, the rebels are reported to have changed their style of operation, abducting and kidnapping Congolese children.
“I have heard of the accounts, especially in South Kivu, that they are grabbing young ones to join their army,” Wundi said.
Of recent, the FDLR rebels are said to have intensified their attacks on the Congolese following a joint-operation between Rwanda Defence Forces and their DRC counterparts that had gained some triumph through destroying some of the biggest bases of the militia group.
Through the one-month operation code-named Umoja Wetu, thousands of rebels and their dependants surrendered and have since been repatriated to Rwanda.