M23 rebels accused of civilian massacre as ceasefire collapses in eastern DRC

© twitter

The Congolese armed forces have accused the M23 rebel group of breaching a recent ceasefire, claiming that they killed at least 50 people in a massacre earlier this week and warning that the army would defend civilians from attacks.

Thursday's statement from DRC government forces came less than a week after regional leaders issued a ceasefire ultimatum at a summit in Angola, saying the M23 needed to withdraw from the towns it has occupied in recent months or else a Kenyan-led East African regional force would intervene.

Meanwhile, the UN peacekeeping mission – Monusco – said the violence took place Tuesday in Kishishe village “and included a high number of civilian casualties".

The community is about 70 kilometres from the regional capital, Goma.

DRC claims Rwanda is backing M23

Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya denounced the M23 group as "terrorists" on Twitter, adding that the rebels were also responsible for the forced recruitment of children and for committing acts of violence against women.

A local civil society group claims that the death toll in Kishishe has risen after more bodies were discovered in a field near Bwito, adding that other civilians are still being reported missing after the attack.

According to the UN Secretary-General's spokesperson in New York, Stephane Dujarric, Monusco had received reports of fighting in the area between M23 rebels and Mai-Mai militias.

However, the Congolese military blame the deaths in Kishishe on Rwandan defense forces and the M23.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
Inter-Congolese dialogue opens as East Africa Community seeks to end DRC rebel activity
DRC, Rwanda agree to end rebel violence and normalise relations
DRC army backed rebel groups that abused civilians, says rights group