Clashes once again rocked the strategic crossroads city of Kitshanga over the weekend. Violent confrontations on Saturday pitted M23 rebels, reportedly supported by Rwanda according to multiple sources, against armed groups aligned with the Congolese authorities in Kinshasa. Since hostilities resumed at the end of 2021, rebels, the Congolese army, and pro-government militias have been vying for control of this crucial city.
A little over a week ago, several journalists were escorted to Kitshanga by various armed men, all loyal to the regular Congolese authorities. The purpose of this press trip was to showcase the “peaceful climate” in the area and to demonstrate that it was no longer under the control of the March 23 Movement (M23).
This Congolese rebellion, reportedly supported by Rwanda according to Kinshasa and the United Nations, had seized this strategic city in January 2023 before yielding to East African Community (EAC) troops, who were meant to act as a buffer in the conflict between the Congolese army and the M23.
However, on Saturday, violent clashes between the rebels and pro-government armed groups once again shook Kitshanga. On Sunday, a spokesperson for the M23 confirmed on the social network X (formerly Twitter) that their movement was indeed present in the city.
Meanwhile, the Congolese army remains discreet. It continues to assert that it is not participating in the fighting and that it is abiding by the ceasefire agreement in the face of the rebel forces.