DRC army claims fresh win against Hutu Rwandan militia

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The army in DR Congo said Sunday it has driven out Hutu Rwandan rebels from their bases in the east of the country, a few weeks after having killed their leader.

Troops launched a campaign Tuesday against the CNRD — an offshoot of the FDLR militia — in South Kivu region, which borders Rwanda and Burundi, military spokesman Dieudonne Kasereka told AFP.

“Since Saturday, we have dislodged these rebels from their headquarters and recaptured all the areas that were previously under their control,” he added.

The rebels had fled towards the National Park of Kahuzi Biega, and the army will launch a major operation to flush them out and destroy them, said Kasereka.

The park, which lies 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of Bukavu, and its 600 square kilometres is the last refuge of the lowland gorilla, an endangered species.

In mid-September the army announced it had killed Sylvestre Mudacumura, commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). He was wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

On November 10, they said they had killed another FDLR leader, Musabimana Juvenal, also known as General Jean-Michel Africa.

The FDLR was created by Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by the majority Hutus in Rwanda.

According to the United Nations, at the beginning of 2019, the force numbered between 500 and 600 active fighters.

Scattered across the mineral-rich eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu as well as in southern Katanga, its fighters have been regularly accused of committing atrocities against civilians.

These recent army operations against the Hutu militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been welcomed in neighbouring Rwanda, which has been frequently targeted by attacks from the rebel Hutu Rwandan force.

At the end of October, government troops launched an operation against another rebel militia, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a shadowy armed group with links to Ugandan Islamists.

This operation is taking place in the North Kivu region that borders Rwanda and Uganda, in response to a series of massacres the ADF has carried out against civilians.