The Democratic Republic of Congo’s army has killed at least 16 former members of a rebel group after they re-entered the country’s east, the military’s spokesperson said Thursday.
Fighting near Rutshuru began on Wednesday and by Thursday the army had captured 68 former M23 rebels and 39 others surrendered, said Major Ndjike Kaiko.
“We are tracking the fleeing M23 fighters who are seeking to infiltrate Kinyandoni and into the Virunga National Park,” he said.
M23 launched its rebellion in eastern DRC in April 2012, becoming the latest group of Tutsi rebels dissatisfied with DRC’s government.
It was repulsed by UN forces and DRC’s army in 2013.
Many rebels fled to Rwanda and Uganda before a 2013 peace agreement was signed with the government and the group disbanded.
But in January DRC’s government warned that the former rebels in Uganda were re-grouping and crossing back into the country.
Uganda’s government said that hundreds of members of the rebel group in January fled a military camp there where they had been awaiting amnesty, and cautioned that many had been quietly infiltrating into the general public.
DRC residents said on Thursday they are terrified of the group’s return.
Eastern DRC has been plagued by many armed rebel groups since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.