“Nearly 300” Killed In Attack On Villagers In Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo The blame was laid on the M23 rebel group last week, Industries Minister Julian Paluku said on Monday.
The army first accused M23 rebels of killing at least 50 civilians in Kishishe village in eastern North Kivu province, before the government put the number of dead at over 100.
The rebel group has rejected allegations of genocide, and says eight civilians were killed in the village on 29 November – attributing their deaths to “stray bullets”.
Paluku and government spokesman Patrick Muyaya presented new figures for the killing spree during a press briefing on Monday, citing data collected by civil society and “organizations that group all communities” in the region.
“Every community has been able to record people who died from units in and around Kishise,” said Paluku, governor of North Kivu province from 2007 to 2019.
“There have been more than 105 deaths in one community alone,” he said.
“We’re looking at about 300 deaths” “people known to be regular residents of Kishishte, who have nothing to do with the FDLR” [Hutus from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda] And there is no connection with Mai-Mai,” said Paluku, a community-based militia group.
He said the dead were all civilians and at least 17 were believed to be children.
Muyaya said it was difficult to break down the data completely because the area was “under M23 occupation”.
The March 23 Movement, or M23, is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group that had been inactive for years. It took up arms again in November last year and in June captured the town of Banagana on the Ugandan border. After a brief lull, it went on the offensive again in October.
Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbor Rwanda of supporting the M23, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed out in recent months.
Kigali disputes the allegation and accuses Kinshasa of complicity with the FDLR – a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC following the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi community in Rwanda.