At least 80 people were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in fighting between the army and a rebel group during the past week, the United Nations mission in the country said.
Rebels from the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo, known by the French acronym APCLS, clashed with the army in the town of Kitchanga about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Kinshasa, leaving more than 100 wounded and burning at least 50 homes, Colonel Felix Basse, military spokesman for the UN mission, told reporters in the capital. The fighting began Feb. 27 after the killing of an ethnic-Tutsi civilian and soldier, Basse said.
“This provoked all this inflamed violence that we’ve seen for a week in Kitchanga,” he said.
The APCLS are a mainly ethnic-Hunde militia based in North Kivu province formed to protect community land rights and oppose the expansion of ethnic-Hutu and Tutsi dominance in the region, according to a 2011 UN experts report on Congo. Both Hutu and Tutsi speak the language of neighboring Rwanda and some militia in eastern Congo consider them foreigners. M23, the most powerful rebel group in North Kivu, is mainly led by Tutsis.
The UN used attack helicopters against the APCLS rebels and the army forced them out of Kitchanga on March 4, according to Basse. About 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN’s humanitarian agency.
APCLS rebels were in the area to begin reintegrating into the national army when the fighting began, Basse said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa on Mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at email@example.com.