North Kivu: the populations victims of looting in the combat zones in the Masisi territory

North Kivu: the populations victims of looting in the combat zones in the Masisi territory

During the clashes between the M23 rebels and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 800 cows were taken from the villages of Kaundu, Buhumba and Kabaya. It is in the territory of Masisi, North Kivu in the eastern DRC. Local sources say these cows were looted by the Nyatura Abazungu, an armed group fighting alongside the regular army, but the group denies these allegations. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

According to local sources, the Nyatura Abazungu gunmen took away these cows after their defeat in clashes with the M23 rebels in certain villages of the Mupfunyi-Matanda groupement in the chiefdom of Bahunde, last Friday and Saturday in the villages of Kadirisha, Ngendambuye-Kironko.

Other sources from the area cite the M23 rebels to have seized more than 500 cows from a farm run by a famous businessman, Rujugiro (Rwandan).

“We believe that it was the M23 rebels who took these cows because they were the ones who conquered this area after the clashes on Saturday,” said a resident who requested anonymity.

The M23 rules out all the accusations and affirms that it is the Nyatura Abazungu which possibly took the cows from Rujugiro’s farm in Kaundu, on the outskirts of the villages of Buhumba, Ngendambuye, Kabaya, affecting part of Bihambwe in the Osso sector.

Lawrence Kanyuka, M23 political spokesman points the finger at the Nyatura armed group saying they are to blame for the looting occuring among the population of Masisi. They steal the goods of the peaceful citizens particularly the Tutsi community accused by the Nyatura of collaborating with the M23, the M23 official said.

“You know, the Nyatura group which is in this locality has not stopped commuting crimes against Rwanda-language speakers including those in the territory of Masisi. And now, after their defeat on the front line in Kabaya and Kadirisha, they wanted revenge by looting the property of the local population during and after the clashes. For us, it is inconceivable to say that an M23 soldier looted the cows of the population, really none of us can do that,” he explained.

The Nyatura rebels denounce the position of the M23 in this dossier. They still accuse the M23 of tribalism against certain communities in North Kivu and of distracting local, national and international opinion about the ceasefire.

Emmanuel Serugendo, spokesperson for the ANCDH/AFPDP Abazungu coalition, persists and signs: “it is the M23 that looted the property of the civilian population during the clashes”.
He also adds that acts of rape continue to be recorded in areas under M23 control.

“The M23 is distracting the population and the Congolese government to withdraw from the areas it occupies. But this is a total lie, it continues to loot, rape and kill peaceful citizens, and then accuses the Nyatura to be the source of the misfortunes of the Congolese. I assure you that he continues to attack our positions of Kitso and Bibwe and there, they looted a hundred cows. They are the ones who kill and steal the goods of the people, not us,” he said.

“The M23 is withdrawing from certain areas that they have conquered in Masisi territory. But the population is skeptical about this withdrawal of the M23” he added.

According to some local sources, the M23 rebels have effectively liberated some localities in the Bashali-Kaembe and Mokoto groupement in the Bashali chiefdom, Masisi territory, since last Sunday.

A local civil society source who requested anonymity said that the M23 rebels have not been visible in the locality of Kilolirwe since Sunday. It is the forces of the EAC in Burundian uniform which are present in this locality, specifies our source.

“The M23 liberated the locality of Kilolirwe and Kitshanga. Here we see the presence of Burundian armed forces. But we believe that this is a way of distracting the armed forces of the DRC”, a resident said.

Aimable Twagira, president of the core civil society of the Bashali Kaembe group, said the M23 is withdrawing but the population no longer believes in it.

“Yes they are withdrawing but we don’t think that is a reality. We are very affected by this attitude of the M23. Imagine they said every time they are withdrawing from these areas, but soon after we see them again. We call on the community of East African states to address this issue and find a solution to allow us go about our business freely,” he said.

In a press release issued early in February, the M23 undertook to liberate all the parties conquered since the beginning of the clashes hand them over to the regional forces of the EAC present in the province of North Kivu to stabilize eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and end the war diplomatically.

However, Congolese government has not yet shown its willingness to dialogue with the M23 rebels, whom it describes as terrorists.

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