Heavy clashes rock city in eastern DRC

2017-06-22 14:00


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Goma - Clashes erupted early on Thursday in Beni, a city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with residents reporting the sound of gunshots and heavy weapons fire.

Exchanges of fire could be heard in city's eastern suburbs, with a spokesperson for the DRC armed forces (FARDC) confirming a gun battle had broken out between troops and a new rebel group.

Speaking to AFP, Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi said Mai-Mai rebels had attacked army positions in Kalau and Rwangoma, two suburbs of the city, prompting heavy clashes.

"The fighting is ongoing. The army is in the process of repelling them," he said, adding that it was not immediately clear which faction of the Mai-Mai was involved.

Since Saturday, troops have been clashing with the Mai-Mai, a "self-defence" militia which counts members of DRC's Nande, Hunde and Kobo communities as well as rivals from the Nyaturu, who represent ethnic Hutus.

At the weekend, clashes between troops and Mai-Mai rebels just south of Beni left a soldier and 12 militants dead.

The army said some of those involved in Thursday's clashes were prisoners on the run who took part in a mass jail break on June 11 when more than 930 inmates escaped from Beni's Kangwai prison.

Beni is located in the restive North Kivu province, a region plagued by regular flare-ups of ethnic bloodshed which over the past year has seen a cycle of attacks and reprisal raids between Hutu and Nande militias.

For more than 20 years, eastern DRC has been rocked by conflict waged by both domestic and foreign armed groups which has been fuelled by the struggle for control of lucrative mineral resources but also by ethnic and property disputes.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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