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"DRC Rebel Group Kills at Least 19 in Attack on Eastern Town"
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At least 19 people were killed in an attack by rebels on a town in Congo’s North Kivu province, as reported by the army late Thursday (Jan. 25).

According to army spokesman Lt. Col. Guillaume N’djike Kaïko, the rebels launched mortar bombs indiscriminately at the town of Mweso, also injuring 27 civilians. He delivered this statement on state television.

Kaïko added that the streets of the town were deserted on Thursday evening, with most residents seeking shelter at the Mweso General Hospital.

The army attributed the attack to the M23 rebel group, which gained prominence a decade ago when its fighters captured Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city on the border with Rwanda. The group takes its name from a peace deal signed on March 23, 2009, which it accuses the government of failing to implement.

U.N. experts cautioned last year that M23 attacks had become more frequent, intense, and sustained, leading to significant territorial gains for the group and resulting in the mass displacement of civilians, along with indiscriminate shelling. They also accused M23 fighters of deliberately targeting civilians and attacking U.N. peacekeeping forces.

Conflict in eastern Congo has persisted for decades, with over 120 armed groups vying for control of territory, resources, and power, while others seek to protect their communities.

The security crisis was a prominent issue in Congo’s recent presidential election, in which President Felix Tshisekedi was reelected with a pledge to end the violence.

Tshisekedi has accused Rwanda of destabilizing Congo by supporting the M23 rebels. While U.N. experts have linked the rebels to Rwandan forces, Rwanda denies any involvement with them.

Piers Potter

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