DR Congo army steps up operations against Rwandan militia groups

Some FDLR militiamen captured by Congolese army last week. Courtesy.

Over the past few months, the DR Congo army has stepped up an offensive against Rwandan terror groups in an ongoing effort to rout all foreign armed militias based in the neighbouring country.

After the Congolese military last week announced the killing of ‘Gen’ Ezekiel Niyirora, alias Jean-Pierre Gaseni, a commander of an anti-Rwanda terrorist group operating there, the former have stepped up operations, capturing hundreds of militia fighters and their dependents in South Kivu Province.

 

Most of the Congolese army’s clashes with anti-Rwanda militia have mainly been concentrated in the eastern part of the Congo, in the areas of Kalehe territory, in South Kivu Province.

 

Before his demise, Gaseni was a commandant in charge of military schools for the CNRD-Ubwiyunge faction of ‘Lt Gen’ Laurent Ndagijimana, alias Wilson Irategeka or Rumbago, which has been the main antagonist in South Kivu.

 

Reports indicate that its military wing, FLN, has lost all its strongholds in populated areas and forced to run for safety in the dense Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern DR Congo.

Irategeka’s CNRD is part of the larger MRCD Ubumwe political platform led by, among others, Belgium-based former Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, who openly supports the genocidal forces, and Paul Rusesabagina, the imposter humanitarian known for soliciting money from unsuspecting well-wishers for a phony foundation he runs, ostensibly to support Genocide survivors.

Their MRCD Ubumwe is made up of Irategeka’s CNRD, Rusesabagina’s PDR-Ihumure and Rwandese Revolution Movement (RRM) which was formed by Callixte Nsabimana, who is currently incarcerated in Rwanda.

Reports indicate that in the latest military campaign in the Congo, their joint military wing, FLN, has been reduced to near nothing with scores killed and others captured.

According to a Congolese army spokesperson in the east, the national army (FARDC) is maintaining pressure on the militia groups.

Over 10 commanders killed, or captured

During FARDC operations in the past month, more than 10 top militia commanders were captured.

Among others, end last week, sources say, ‘Col’ Joseph Gatabazi, alias Gatos Avemaria, who was the militia’s head of military operations, was captured by the Congolese army.

Mid last week, on Thursday, a top FLN commander, ‘Col’ Théogène Muhawenimana, alias Festus Shingiro, was killed along with many of his men in the battle in the Kalehe territory of South Kivu.

Reports indicate that more than 80 militiamen died while more than 40 were captured. Muhawenimana, or Shingiro, was the headquarters commander charged with the security of the CRND leaders.

Other commanders captured that day include ‘Col’ Innocent Ntamuhanga, ‘Lt Col’ Uzire Hakizimana, and ‘Maj’ Emmanuel Sekaheri.

Last week on Monday, Maj Guillaume Ndjike-Kaiko, the Congolese army spokesperson in North Kivu announced that another high ranking militia commander, FDLR’s ‘Col’ Nshimiyimana Asifiwe Manudi, the second in command of the militia’s elite force, was captured in the North Kivu capital, Goma.

The FDLR is an offshoot of the forces and militia groups that crossed into DR Congo from Rwanda after playing a major part in the slaughter of more than a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Internal friction has gradually seen various splinter groups, including RUD-Urunana, a faction said to have been created by Uganda’s intelligence, emerge and worsen the security problem in the vast country’s east and the region.

The newest splinter group, formed in 2016, is the CNRD whose military arm, FLN, first raided a Rwandan village near the border with Burundi in June, last year, before another attack in December, when three passenger service vehicles were ambushed inside Nyungwe Forest.

DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi has vowed to deal with the problem of insecurity in his country, especially in the east where a myriad of militia are wreaking havoc.

In the past few months, the Congolese army has steadfastly pushed the militias out of their strongholds and killed their leaders as well as scores of others.

In September, it killed the former supreme commander of the genocidal militia FDLR Sylvestre Mudacumura.

The latter had evaded capture for over a decade. Early last month, ‘Gen’ Juvénal Musabyimana, alias Jean-Michel Africa, the commander of RUD-Urunana was killed in another operation in Binza, Rutchuru.

Earlier,  in December last year, Congolese security organs arrested FDLR spokesperson Ignace Nkaka, alias LaForge Fils Bazeye, and ‘Lt Col’ Jean-Pierre Nsekanabo, its head of intelligence. The two were returning from Uganda after attending a meeting with another anti-Rwanda group, RNC, led by fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa. They were later transferred to Kigali where they are now on trial.

A UN report of experts released in December, last year, indicated that several anti-Kigali groups, including Nyamwasa’s RNC joined hands and set up a training base in eastern DR Congo.

Several RNC fighters, including Captain (rtd) Charles ‘Sibo’ Sibomana, formerly the group’s second in command, were also recently killed. Others such as RNC’s top commander Major (rtd) Habib Mudathiru, were arrested and handed over to Rwanda and are now on trial.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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