Rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23) took control on Friday morning of the strategic town of Mushaki, located in the territory of Masisi, about 40 kilometers from Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province, in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said the Congolese army.
Guillaume Ndjike, Congolese military spokesman who confirmed the information, assured that the army is committed to “putting an end to this aggression” by the M23.
“Even though the city has fallen under the control of the rebels, our army is committed to fighting to end this aggression against our country and our people. We are working to restore the state authority by all possible means in our possession,” said Ndjike.
For more than three days, the Congolese army has been clashing with the M23 in this part of the country after the M23’s advances in the territory of Masisi. Near the city of Mushaki, the rebels have also taken control of several other villages alongside the road leading to Goma.
According to local sources, the fall of Mushaki would allow the M23 to cut off the Goma-Masisi road axis in order to asphyxiate Goma, which largely depends on this road for daily supply. Goma had fallen into the hands of the same rebellion for 10 days in December 2012.
The intensive fightings, lasting for several months in the territory of Masisi, have already displaced thousands of people to find refuge in the internally displaced persons (IDP) site of Bulengo, located on the outskirts of Goma.
Thousands of other civilians have also found refuge since last year in various IDP sites in Nyiragongo territory near Goma.
Since last year, the M23 has seized several cities and large towns in the North Kivu province, including Bunagana, a town lying on the border with Uganda, which is extremely strategic in cross-border trade.
M23’s resurgence has also reignited tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, as Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting the M23. Meanwhile, Kigali in return accuses Kinshasa of being in coalition with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, whose members are blamed for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group.