March 1, 2013

Clashes Erupt Between Rival M23 Forces Near Bunagana

The base of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been attacked by rival forces loyal war lord Bosco Ntaganda.

According to sources from the rebel camp, the attackers were led by Baudouin Ngaruye, a former commander with the M23 who later defected and joined Ntaganda.

The attack on Cyanzu is said to have started at around 1:00am when Ntaganda’s forces tried to take over the M23 Military Base, about 20 kilometres from the Uganda border town of Bunagana.

Cyanzu Military Base hosts the M23 Military leader Brigadier General Sultan Makenga.

According to the M23 civilian spokesperson, Betra Bisimwa, the attack was masterminded by the Former M23 President Bishop Jean Marie Runiga Lugerero, who was fired by the military arm of M23 also Congolese Revolutionary Army. The decision was taken at a High Command meeting in Bunanagana on Wednesday.

Bisimwa says that the M23 managed to repel the attack by the group which is protesting Bishop Runiga’s sacking and that the fighting lasted for about 5 hours and later on they fled into the Virunga National Park.

He further revealed that the M23 have also sent their troops to run after the attackers in the Virunga National Park and that even Bishop Runiga is hiding with them.

Bisimwa says Bishop Runiga has been dealing with Ntaganda, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court. He claims that Runiga has been diverting M23 funds to recruit people into Ntaganda forces.

Bishop Jean Marie Runiga declined to comment on the matter and he immediately switched off his phone when URN contacted him.

By the time of filing this story, the M23 had stormed the Virunga National park where the Ntaganda forces are said to be hiding.

This is the second time in less than a week that the rival M23 forces are clashing. On Sunday, forces loyal to Runiga and Ntaganda attacked Makenga’s fighters near Rutshuru, killing a senior commander Major Anicet Musana and at least six other soldiers.

Sources close to the rebel movement say the two factions came up after disagreements over the direction of the peace talks in Uganda. The talks started early this year aimed at ending the 11-month rebellion and restore peace in DR Congo.

M23 picked up arms in April last year to fight the government of President Joseph Kabila.

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