NORTH KIVU - New reports coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, have claimed that several government soldiers were killed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels over the weekend.
The lawless group that is largely composed of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, struck again last weekend, killing scores of civilians and, reportedly government soldiers in the east DRC.
The latest attacks come barely a month after the rebels attacked several areas including Luofu – on April 17 and 18, targeting civilians.
“That (the latest attack) is true but I don’t have the details now I have been told of the new clashes but I don’t know where exactly and how many,” David Nthengwe, the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR External Relations Officer said Wednesday.
Nthengwe was speaking to The New Times, from DRC’s South Kivu Province.
When contacted Thursday, North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku confirmed that the FDLR attacks did happen but could not comment further because he was “in a meeting” in the DRC capital, Kinshasa.
The incidents appear to back up Nthengwe’s April concerns – when the FDLR had issued threats that they would strike again.
Apart from committing atrocities in Rwanda 15 years ago, the FDLR are also accused by DRC of committing various atrocities in the DRC for the last 15 years they have been in the eastern part of the vast country.
Earlier unconfirmed reports indicated that in the latest raids, the FDLR killed more than 90 people including 30 DRC Government army (FARDC) soldiers.
Lt. Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich, Chief Military Spokesperson of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), yesterday confirmed the latest incident but refuted earlier media reports that the attacks occurred in South Kivu Province.
“The reports about the recent killings in South Kivu are mistaken. It was in southern parts of North Kivu, near Hombo. The Village is called Busurungi, about twenty two kilometers north of Hombo,” Dietrich said.
“This is in North Kivu but along the border between South Kivu and North Kivu.”
Dietrich noted that another village, in the same area, “about twenty kilometers north east of Hombo had been attacked and added that the villages are 40 kilometers from a MONUC base but there was “no chance for our helicopters to get there. It is very difficult to access.”
“The Government army told our mission that they have buried at least thirty five people. It is too early and we don’t have the report from the fact finding mission,” he said, noting that investigations continued and subsequently, a communiqué would be released.
Dietrich did not entirely rule out the possibility of FARDC casualties.
The rebels’ reprisal killings, rape and looting have been on the rise, in addition to displacing hundreds and targeting humanitarian relief convoys.
After the Rwanda-DRC joint military offensive against the rebels ended in February, FDLR stepped up reprisal attacks against civilians who had collaborated against them during the campaign.