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Fresh fighting erupts between DR Congo rebels, loyalists: residents

By AFP
Congo Residents flee fighting near Sake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday.  By Aubin Mukoni AFP
FEB 8, 2024 LISTEN
Residents flee fighting near Sake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday. By Aubin Mukoni (AFP)

Fresh fighting erupted between M23 rebels and pro-government forces Thursday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after deadly clashes forced thousands from their homes near a key provincial capital, residents said.

Local people contacted by phone told AFP fighting broke out in several villages between the M23 rebel group and armed loyalist groups calling themselves "patriots".

The outbreaks struck Nyiragongo territory, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and the Masisi district to the west.

"We woke up to the sound of heavy arms fire and we are keeping burrowed down in our houses," said one resident of Rwibiranga, a village north of Goma, who asked not to be named.

"The situation is still unclear and we are in danger."

A local official in the village who asked not to be named told AFP that fighting between M23 and "patriots" resumed at 6:00 am (0400 GMT).

A day earlier saw scenes of panic around Goma as thousands of people arrived, fleeing violence in the town of Sake, strategically located on a major highway.

A security source and local leaders said fighting was ongoing in Sake on Thursday.

The unrest has cut off most supply routes to Goma, a city of more than one million people near the Rwandan border.

Six people were reported killed on Wednesday in Sake and many more injured, medical and security sources said.

After years of dormancy, the M23 (March 23 Movement) took up arms again in late 2021 and has since seized vast swathes of North Kivu.

Kinshasa and UN experts say M23 is supported by neighbouring Rwanda, a claim Kigali denies.

Fighting resumed around Goma after a lull during the December 20 election which returned President Felix Tshisekedi to power for a second term.

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