A resident of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province says both local and foreign armed groups have intensified attacks on unarmed civilians there.
Charles Ntiryica said there are concerns the attacks will hurt business activities in the region and undermine the ongoing voter registration process.
“These days armed groups like Mai Mai and FDLR [Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda] are attacking many villages like Rutshuru and Lubero,” said Ntiryica.
The rebel groups, he said, are taking advantage of a power vacuum created as a result of the government retraining soldiers of the national army in the North Kivu province. The retraining is expected to last for 45 days.
“People are really tired and worried and they don’t know what is going to happen, if this situation continues within the next two months,” said Ntiryica.
The rebels are accused of ambushing unarmed civilians, looting, kidnapping and rape, among other atrocities.
Information Minister Lambert Mende says his administration has increased efforts to better equip the national army to combat the growing insecurity in the restive province. He predicts the government will soon ensure improved security in the area.
“We are finishing them [the rebels],” Mende said. “By two weeks to three weeks, we will now have all these villages stabilized and security starting to come back in North Kivu.”
Mende attributes the increased attacks to the FDLR rebels who he said want to revenge the arrest and possible prosecution of their leader in Germany as well as the arrest of their commander by the Congolese national army.
The increasing violence comes as Congo compiles a voter list for the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for November 28.
Recently, Leonard Mashako Mamba, Congo’s minister of university and higher education, escaped an attack by an armed group in the north Kivu town of Rutshuru. His driver and his body guard were killed.
Both the DRC government and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) often blame rebels from the FDLR for the attacks in North Kivu.
MONUSCO has said in recent months that its peacekeepers have stepped up patrols to quell the insecurity in the province.