D.R. CONGO - Fresh clashes that took place over the weekend between the Congolese armed forces and militias of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), left at least 24 FDLR fighters dead, according to Major Vianney Kazalama, military spokesperson for ‘Operation Amani Leo’ in North Kivu.
Kazalama said yesterday that 15 of the rebels were killed on Sunday. 24 Congolese civilians were also rescued from the rebels. In a previous attack that had taken place on Friday, Kazalama said that the Congolese army—FARDC, lost an officer whom he only identified as Capt. Muhire while nine FDLR rebels were killed.
“On February 26, we fought at a place called Ingenge in the Walikale region. We captured their stronghold and killed nine of their men but we lost one of our officers,” Kazalama said in a phone interview yesterday. “Just yesterday (Sunday), we killed 15 and captured another FDLR position and 24 Congolese civilians were able to report to DDRRR.
This morning, 40 other civilians brought themselves in while 12 others came in from the FDLR in Walikale.”
DDRRR is a UN-backed Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reinstallation and Reintegration program set up to facilitate both militias or civilians who defect from the rebels, preparing them for repatriation to Rwanda or resettling them.
John Sayinzoga, the Chairman of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) also confirmed yesterday that some FDLR elements were continuously returning home.
Previous reports indicate that on February 18 and 19, seven FDLR fighters were killed in clashes with rival militia allied to the Mai-Mai group in South Kivu, in the Magunda, Mwenga and Masangu areas of Uvira territory.
Capt. Olivier Hamuli, Maj. Kazalama’s counterpart in South Kivu could not be reached on phone yesterday, but the latter confirmed knowledge of the incidents and noted that FDLR often fight with their allies over ill-gotten gains.
“I heard about the clashes in the south. They usually have misunderstandings over how to properly share what they pillage, things like cows, and they fight amongst themselves,” Kazalama said.
The Congolese army is continuing with a three-month military offensive dubbed Operation Amani Leo (Operation Peace Today) against the rebels. The operation is scheduled to end this month.