DRC: Four children among 13 civilians dead in M23, army conflict
As conflict intensifies in eastern DR Congo, several are killed and displaced.
Amid increased clashes between rebel groups and army forces, several civilians, including four children, were killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week, said the UN.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 13 civilians died in the fighting between June 19 and 21 in Rutshuru territory in North Kivu.
As a result of the renewed fighting, which intensified after the M23 rebels accused the government of violating the conditions of the 2009 agreement, tens of thousands of locals have been forced to flee.
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The ongoing violence adds pressure on humanitarian organizations in the region as "several villages in Rutshuru territory have been practically emptied of their inhabitants, some of whom have fled to Uganda," OCHA said. 158,000 people, at least, have been forced from their homes since March in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, and according to the OCHA, the increasing need for humanitarian aid was being "hampered by continuing violence."
Some history on M23 and the DR Congo
The M23, a mainly Congolese Tutsi group of militants, is one of more than 120 other armed groups active in eastern DRC.
In 2012, a joint offensive by UN troops and the Congolese army put an end to the rebellion, but the M23 resumed fighting last year, accusing the government in Congo of not respecting a 2009 agreement under which its fighters were to be blended with the army.
Local sources reported in April that M23 rebels have taken control of several villages in eastern DR Congo after fighting with government troops in the Rutshuru region.
At the end of May, the DRC army confirmed that it was holding two Rwandan troops, a day after Kigali accused it of supporting the rebels who seized them.
Rwanda claimed that the two soldiers were kidnapped by a Hutu rebel group operating in eastern DRC. However, the DRC army, on the other hand, claimed the soldiers were trespassing on its territory and had been apprehended by civilians.
Relations between the DRC and Rwanda have been strained since the overwhelming entry of Rwandan Hutus suspected of slaying Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide in the eastern DRC.