Rebels seize new territory in Congo as fighting escalates

A rebel group with ties to neighboring Rwanda has occupied much of Congo’s territory, threatening the regional capital’s supply routes as fighting escalates in the country’s east, residents and aid workers say.

While the M23 rebels took control of the village of Mushaki in North Kivu after more than two days of fighting with government forces and militias, civilians, including refugees, fled from other areas.

Analysts say the occupation of Moussaka threatens to cut off traffic to the regional capital of Goma.

“Goma’s main supply routes seem riskier, and capturing cities along key routes will bring M23 more tax revenue, which will help them launch more attacks,” said Benjamin Hunter, Africa analyst at risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft.

Fighting in eastern Congo has escalated for decades as more than 120 groups vie for influence, land and mineral resources, while others try to protect their communities. But the fighting intensified at the end of 2021, when the M23, inactive for almost a decade, reappeared and began to occupy the land.

The M23 movement emerged 10 years ago when its militants occupied Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo on the border with Rwanda. The group took its name from the March 23, 2009 peace agreement that M23 accuses the Congolese government of failing to comply with.

For months, the Congo has been accusing its neighbor Rwanda of supporting M23, and influential voices in the West support the accusation, but Rwanda denies it. Earlier this month, regional heads of state called on all sides for an immediate ceasefire and sought last year to send more regional forces into eastern Congo to prevent fighting.

Source: “AB”

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