“There are conflicting rumors and much confusion about the latest events. Certainly, hundreds of people are fleeing the fighting and going to Goma. They come out from the forest, with little or nothing with them and they are terrified,” said Father Peter Mazzochin, a Xaverian missionary, from in the regional capital of North Kivu, speaking about the recent wave of clashes in the area.
The violence, as reported by most Congolese newspapers, is said to have been caused by an offensive launched some days ago by a group of military dissidents who stormed some towns in the area. “The local radio stations, however, report that regular soldiers sent from Kinshasa have regained control of Kitshanga near Bwiza, about 100 km from Goma,” added the priest, who has lived many years in the Congo, noting that “the news, if confirmed, is hopeful, as it is from in passing from Kitshanga, across borders, that the rebels have the opportunity to secure supplies.”
Local sources in the Masisi region also report the recovery of the areas of Kautu, Kabaya, Karuba, Kilongo Mushaki by the armed forces (FARDC), which are said not to have met resistance. “But despite reports in the radio, people are afraid to return to their homes. Two days ago, there was news of the presence of irregular soldiers that plundered houses in Walikale even though authorities had assured the residents that the situation was brought under control – says the missionary – and then the fear and suspicion are widespread.”
In the last hours, the story was clairifed by statements of former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, whose group, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), was incorporated into the ranks of the regular army with the peace agreements of 2009. “I am innocent and have no involvement with what happened,” said Ntaganda, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and whose domicile is not currently known. The source of disorder in the area between Masisi and Rutshuriu – according to ’Radio Okapi’ – was the mutiny by the army of a dozen generals and several hundred men allied with the former CNDP and a Mai Mai self defense militia accused of violations and abuses against civilians in the area in summer 2010.