More than a dozen people have lost their lives in three days of clashes between the army and rebels in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“There are 12 dead among the FDLR and its allies, and four deaths among the army,” army spokesman, Captain Guillaume Djike, said on Tuesday referring to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
The violence broke out on Sunday in Mpati, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Goma, the capital of DRC’s eastern province of North Kivu.
The fighting involved the army and the FDLR rebels as well as two groups of Mai-Mai militiamen.
Five villages in the restive region were taken over by the FDLR and the Mai-Mai several weeks ago, but operations were under way “to retake these illegally-occupied villages,” Djike added.
The Rwandan FDLR, a Hutu group based in eastern DRC, is seeking the overthrow of the Tutsi-led government in Kigali.
The rebel group includes several people wanted internationally in connection with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which left at least 800,000 people dead, mainly from the Tutsi minority.
The rebels are also accused of carrying out attacks in neighboring DRC and committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.
Last February, the DRC army launched an offensive to flush out the FDLR rebels from the areas where they have been wreaking havoc for more than two decades.