Goma – Eight Congolese soldiers died in two attacks this week in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the military said on Thursday, blaming a rebel group known as M23 for the killings.
Dozens of armed groups operate in the resource-rich central African country’s eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, a legacy of regional wars more than two decades ago.
“Our position was attacked by the M23 in Bukima in the night from Wednesday to Thursday. Two soldiers were killed,” Lieutenant Colonel Muhindo Lwanzo, a senior military official in the eastern North Kivu province, told AFP.
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Lwanzo said M23 rebels had attacked and burnt another army position overnight from Monday to Tuesday in the North Kivu village of Runyoni and killed six soldiers, bringing the total to eight.
An anonymous source at the town of Rutshuru’s general hospital told AFP the bodies of seven soldiers killed in the attacks were being kept in its mortuary.
Lwanzo said the attacks were the seventh by M23 rebels since November against army positions in the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site north of provincial capital Goma.
The army in November accused former M23 rebels of attacking its positions in the area, with more than 5,000 people fleeing into neighbouring Uganda to avoid the violence.
The M23, a Congolese Tutsi group that was largely defeated in 2013 after launching a rebellion the previous year, denied the attacks.
President Felix Tshisekedi placed North Kivu and Ituri under a “state of siege” in May to intensify the battle against rebel groups.
Soldiers have replaced civil servants in key positions, but the measure has not quelled the violence.
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