A Kenyan soldier assigned to the regional force of the East African Community (EAC) has died in a mortar attack in clashes with the rebel group March 23 Movement (M23) in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Congolese authorities, who have condemned the death of the soldier, have attributed the attack to the M23, explaining that the rebels fired a mortar at the regional forces. However, local sources have denied this version and have indicated that it was a lost mortar bomb.
Officials consulted by the Kenyan newspaper ‘The Star’ have indicated that, instead of being a direct attack on the forward operating base of the Kenyan Armed Forces, it was a matter of clashes with the local self-defense group Wazalendo (Patriots, in Swahili).
“A (mortar projectile) accidentally landed near the patrol bases. The soldier was injured by the shrapnel resulting from the impact. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries,” the aforementioned sources reported.
However, the M23 has issued a statement accusing government forces of the soldier’s death and has indicated that they have broken the ceasefire. In this sense, they have criticized that the regional and international community has not “broken the silence on the massacres perpetrated by the coalition forces of the DRC Government.”
“The M23 condemns the DRC Government’s continued violations of the ceasefire (…) and the attacks against the EAC regional force,” said the armed group’s political spokesperson, Lawrence Kanyuka, in a statement, in which He assures that the authorities are carrying out “state-sponsored ethnic cleansing” reminiscent of “Nazi Germany of 1941-1945” or the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The M23 is a rebel group made up mainly of Congolese Tutsis and operates mainly in the province of North Kivu. After a conflict between 2012 and 2013, DRC and the group signed a peace agreement in December. In these battles, the Congolese Army had the support of United Nations troops.
For their part, the Wazalendo, of a nationalist nature and made up of young people from the region, oppose regional organizations such as the East African Community and the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, which is in process to retire at the end of the year.