DRC army says M23 attacked Burundi troops in North Kivu

Just a day after their deployment, Burundian troops were attacked by the M23, according to the Democratic Republic of Congo army.

Colonel Kaiko Ndjike, spokesman for the governor of North Kivu in DRC, condemned a new violation of the ceasefire by the M23, which launched an attack on Monday targeting the Burundian troops.

The DRC army added that the attack also hit a camp for internal displaced people.

“These attacks were carried out with 82 and 120 mortars causing enormous damage,” Ndjike said.

The incident took place in Saké, about 30 kilometres from Goma, North Kivu where the Burundian army was to be deployed as part of the East African regional force ordered by the East African Community (EAC) heads of states.

The attacks came as Angola, which is mediating between the DRC government and the M23 rebels, announced that the rebels had promised a ceasefire by noon of March 7, 2023. Angolan President João Lourenço had ordered the establishment of an ad hoc verification mechanism to ensure compliance with this decision.

On Monday, a few hours before the deadline set by the rebels and the Angolan mediation, fighting was reported in North Kivu between the DRC army and the M23 rebels. This happened just after the DRC and Burundi signed a defence agreement.

Alain Tribert Mutabazi, Burundi's Defence Minister and former combatant, and his DRC counterpart Gilbert Kabanda, committed their countries to strengthening military cooperation.

But President Lourenço insisted the rebels and the DRC government must respect the ceasefire.

The attack on the Burundian troops' camp may reignite the escalation of the war.