New clashes between the Army and M23 in eastern DRC despite the agreed cessation of hostilities

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Archive – Displaced by fighting between the Congolese Army and M23 – ALAIN UAYKANI / XINHUA NEWS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Fighting has resumed this Thursday between the Army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rebel group March 23 Movement (M23) in the territory of Rutshuru, in the east of the country, despite the agreement signed between the parties for the cessation of hostilities.

According to administrative sources in the locality of Kibirizi, reported by Radio Okapi, the recent fighting – recorded in the villages of Kirima, Matete and Lushebere – has caused panic among the population and thousands of people have fled to Kitshanga, in the territory of Masisi, among other places.

«There is widespread panic. Some residents of Kibirizi are beginning to leave the community. However, here we have received several displaced people from Tongo and its surroundings. We hear gunshots. I myself am about to flee,» said a youth representative from Bwito, a village near Kibirizi, as reported by the news portal Actualité.

In the framework of a summit in the Angolan capital, Luanda, to advance in the normalization of diplomatic relations, DRC and Rwanda agreed on a ceasefire last Friday, as well as a withdrawal of M23 from the recently conquered areas in the province.

The new round of talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which kicked off on Monday, comes after the rebel group said it accepts in principle the agreement for a cessation of hostilities in North Kivu province, although it warned that it reserves any right to respond to any attack.