AP

Congo govt raises toll from attack in east to more than 270

Dec 4, 2022, 11:06 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2022, 1:25 pm

BENI, Congo (AP) — Congo’s government dramatically increased the death toll from a massacre last week they blamed on M23 rebels, saying Monday that 270 people had been killed in an attack that broke a fragile cease-fire agreement.

M23’s chairman challenged the figure and accused Congo’s government of creating a diversion from other atrocities in the region that he says have been committed by government soldiers and their allies.

Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said Monday that the government was opening an official inquiry into what happened in Kishishe, a village located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the regional capital of Goma.

“Our justice minister is currently at The Hague in the Netherlands and has already referred the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court so that he can investigate the massacres in Kishishe,” Muyaya said. “We are asking the population to be calm and that these M23s will pay for these attacks.”

The Congolese government initially accused the M23 rebels and Rwandan defense forces of killing 50 people in Kishishe. Rwanda’s government has repeatedly denied backing the M23 rebels.

There was no immediate corroboration of that government figure or the new toll of at least 270 dead due to insecurity in the area but Muyaya said the information had come from local civil society groups.

However, M23 chairman Bertrand Bisimwa said the death toll figure had been inflated by a tribal militia leader and that only eight people had been killed by stray bullets during the clashes last Tuesday in Kishishe.

“The (Congolese) government without any due diligence or investigation and with lack of verified information from credible sources, for political gains has hijack(ed) these false allegations with the dual objective, firstly concealing the setbacks suffered by its coalition in the Kishishe area and secondly, to divert one’s attention on ongoing genocide committed by its coalition,” Bisimwa said in a statement.

Regional leaders at a summit in Angola late last month had warned that if M23 did not respect the cease-fire and relinquish control of the towns it held that an East African regional force would make them do so.

A contingent of more than 900 Kenyan troops already has deployed to eastern Congo as part of the regional force agreed to in June and South Sudan has said it is sending 750 personnel too. The force will eventually include two battalions from Uganda and two from Burundi as well.

M23 was not included in the talks in Angola but its leaders had said they would abide by it. After news broke of the fighting in Kishishe, the Congolese military warned it would that its armed forces “are obliged to respond to all attacks and to do everything possible to protect the Congolese people.”

The M23 rose to prominence a decade ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in Congo’s east, which sits along the border with Rwanda. After a peace agreement, many of M23´s fighters were integrated into the national military.

Then the group re-emerged just over a year ago, saying the government had failed to live up to its promises under the peace deal. By June, M23 had seized the strategic town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda. It later took control of two more major towns — Rutshuru and Kiwanja.

___

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

4 hours ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

1 day ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

1 day ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

4 days ago

Congo govt raises toll from attack in east to more than 270