The regional spokesman for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo [MONUSCO] says his group has launched a 10-day military offensive against armed groups in Rutshuru.
The military action, nicknamed “Operation Restore Hope,” is aimed at preventing future violence in the Rutshuru district of the restive North Kivu province.
Alexander Essome said MONUSCO wants to ensure peace and stability in the area following recent attacks by armed groups.
“We have directed many of our patrols in the area… to ensure that we secure the area, we monitor it and we push away armed groups that have been committing insecurity in the area,” said Essome.
He also said the insurgents often tend to attack areas where there are no MONUSCO peacekeepers.
The armed groups are accused of ambushing unarmed civilians, looting, kidnapping and rape, among other atrocities.
MONUSCO, Essome said, will continue to keep up the pressure on the armed groups, even after the end of its 10-day military offensive.
He acknowledged nonetheless that armed insurgents could return to the area after the military operation.
“By pushing them away, they have already moved from the area where they use to be let’s say two months ago. So, it will not be easy for them to reconvene in the same place. So, is our hope,” said Essome.
The offensive comes after residents of Rutshuru and other surrounding areas complained that both local and foreign armed groups have intensified attacks on unarmed civilians there.
They expressed concern the insurgent attacks will hurt business activities in the region and undermine the ongoing voter registration process.
The government is currently retraining soldiers of the national army in the North Kivu province.
The training is expected to last 45 days, after which the army is expected to help stabilize Rutshuru and the surrounding areas.
Both the DRC government and MONUSCO blame rebels from the FDLR for the attacks in North Kivu.