Thousands Flee As DR Congo Army Attacked
Thousands of people living near DR Congo’s eastern border with Uganda fled their homes after unidentified assailants attacked army positions overnight, civilian and military sources said on Monday.
Assailants launched the attacks around 2000 GMT on Sunday, a senior military source told AFP. Heavy and small-arms fire went on into the early hours, prompting local people to flee, the sources said.
Officials have not said who launched the attacks in an area where more than 120 armed groups roam, many of whom are a legacy of regional wars that shook the vast region more than two decades ago.
Local officials and the Red Cross in the Kisoro region bordering Uganda said roughly 5,000 people had poured across the border and the area was “overwhelmed”.
They included older people, women and children, and they had no access to basic amenities like water or shelter, according to local official Rukundo Manasseh.
The arrivals were being taken to a transit centre in Nyakabande, said Kisoro Red Cross chief Primrose Natukunda.
The attacks took place near Bunagana in Rutshuru Territory, part of the troubled eastern DR Congo province of North Kivu.
The assailants overran the position of a paramilitary guard, stationed in the area to protect the Virunga National Park, a renowned conservation site, the Congolese sources said.
Some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from regional capital Goma, Bunagana is a key border post and transit point for goods headed to Goma.
“Several armed forces positions were attacked overnight Sunday in a strategic zone on the border between the DRC and Uganda,” communication minister Patrick Muyaya told Belgian media in Brussels.
The provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under a “state of siege” for months to support a military offensive aimed at neutralising armed groups.
President Felix Tshisekedi has replaced civilian authorities there with army and police officers.