By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Fighter jets from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have bombed rebel targets in the embattled east, escalating the country’s fight against the M23 group, which has seized territory in recent weeks.
Kinshasa has accused neighbouring Rwanda of backing the rebels and last week expelled Rwanda’s ambassador, raising tension between the two countries. Kigali has for long denied providing support to the M23.
Jean Claude Bambaze, president of civil society in Rutshuru, a town in North Kivu province, said that aerial bombardments were reported in the villages of Chanzu and Musungati, about 35km (22 miles) from Rutshuru.
“We are seeing the comings and goings of Congolese warplanes,” he said. “We call on the Congolese government to finish quickly with this M23 affair because people have already fled their homes and others are confined in camps without humanitarian assistance.”
There was no immediate confirmation or comment from the Congolese military on the reported aerial bombardments. However, M23 spokesman Lawrence Kanyuka accused the army of attacking heavily populated areas and “trampling on the call for dialogue”.
“This warmongering option is counterproductive and puts the lives of many citizens in the areas under our control in extreme danger and exacerbates the humanitarian situation in the region,” Kanyuka said in a statement.
A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 by briefly capturing the main city of Goma. After a peace deal in 2013, many M23 fighters were integrated into the national military.
The group resumed fighting in late 2021, saying the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.