Masisi : the mining town of Rubaya falls into the hands of the M23 that also covets that of Sake, border with South Kivu

Masisi : the mining town of Rubaya falls into the hands of the M23 that also covets that of Sake, border with South Kivu

After an hour of fighting between FARDC and M23 on the evening of this Sunday, the mining town of Rubaya in the territory of Masisi, in the province of North Kivu (East of the country) fell into the hands of the rebels. This Monday, the fighting is reported not far from the city of Sake, west of Goma about ten kilometers from the border with the neighboring province of South Kivu. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

According to testimonies collected on the spot, since 5:45 p.m. this Sunday, M23 rebels attacked posts of FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the localities of Bihambwe and Mema situated a few kilometers from Rubaya. They advanced towards this mining town without any significant resistance.
A resident said that this Sunday around 7 p.m., several M23 rebels were visible in Rubaya.

“We are here like orphans. We are forced to stay here because we have nowhere else to go. We are waiting to see what happens next”, he added.

The civil society in the territory of Masisi calls on the head of state to “replace the command of operations”.

“Our army is fighting as it should and we have witnessed intense fighting that it led against the M23. But we are now tired and we demand from the President of the Republic to replace the command of operations in the sector of North Kivu because the results are no longer palpable for the FARDC side”, said Télésphore Mitondeke, civil society rapporteur for Masisi territory.

Today, M23 rebels occupy a significant part of the Masisi region and all of Rutshuru territory.

Rubaya had been the target of the rebellion for a long time. It is full of several deposits of coltan, tourmaline, manganese, cassiterite and many other raw materials. 80% of Tantalum in the world is found there.

This offers this rebellion an invaluable financial source which could allow it to resupply itself with arms and ammunition, analyze local observers.

For the time being, the Congolese army has not yet communicated in relation to the fall of Rubaya, a very strategic agglomeration.

For its part, the civil society – Vital Forces of the rural district of Masisi expresses its indignation at the progress of the rebels of the M23 in the strategic agglomerations of the territory of Masisi.

In a statement issued this Sunday, February 26, 2023, this citizen structure says that it does not understand the spectacular progress of the M23 in several entities of this territory.

“After the fall of Kitshanga, we thought that the government would react fiercely against the enemy given the non-respect of the agreements made in the Bujumbura talks before the EAC Heads of State. Now, without any offensives, the enemy is on the move and acts according to his taste, the capital of the territory of Masisi being in his next priorities to declare the total capture of the said territory and accomplish his mission”, regrets its representative, Muisha Kasiwa.

To thwart this advance by the rebels, the civil society of Masisi proposes to the Head of State “a change of command of operations in the territory of Masisi, protection against a probable fall of the capital of the territory of Masisi, the strengthening of military manpower for attacks capable of smothering the enemy and sending him back where he came from, and a regular bonus for soldiers at the front, supported by food suitable for long-term assaults”.

In its statement, the society of the district of Masisi asks the provincial deputies to support this process until its realization within a reasonable time, failing which, it says, a bitter sanction will be reserved for them in the next elections.

The city of Sake coveted by the rebellion

This Monday, hostilities were reported not far from the city of Sake, about twenty kilometers from the city of Goma (capital of North Kivu) and located about ten kilometers from the border with South Kivu.

Armed groups in the cadence

Several local armed groups including the Nyatura came to reinforce the FARDC on Monday afternoon, we learned from local sources.

“Many of them are helping FARDC and trying to dislodge M23 rebels from Rubaya. Fierce fighting continues”, several local sources told SOS Médias Burundi early Monday evening.

This situation has caused a massive displacement of the population. Several residents fled to the city of Goma, others found refuge in the neighboring province of South Kivu.

Mining activities in this part of Masisi territory had been suspended by mining companies working in this entity following the security crisis a few days ago.

The former Tutsi rebellion which took up arms again at the end of 2021 accusing Congolese authorities of not having respected their commitments on the reintegration of its fighters enjoys the support of Rwanda, according to Congolese authorities.

The Rwandan government continues to brush aside these allegations, accusing in turn Congolese leaders of collaborating with Rwandan genocidaires, FDLR, by providing them with uniforms, weapons and ammunition in order to “destabilize the Rwandan territory”.

But Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi describes the FDLR as “a residual force reduced to banditry”.

According to the UNHCR, more than a million people have fled their households in North Kivu in the past six months due to insecurity and fighting.

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