Rwanda-backed M23 rebels seize key town in east DRC

Rwandan-backed M23 rebels have seized Kanyabayonga – a strategic town in the Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile east, a local official told French news agency AFP on Saturday.

"Kanyabayonga has been in the hands of the M23 since Friday evening," the administrative official said under condition of anonymity.

Kanyabayonga lies on the northern front of the conflict in North Kivu province, which has been rocked by violence since 2021 when the M23 (March 23 Movement) resumed its armed campaign in the region.

The town is considered a pathway to the major commercial centres of Butembo and Beni in the north.

Kanyabayonga is home to more than 60,000 people as well as tens of thousands of people who have fled there in recent months, driven from their homes by the advance of the rebels.

The town is in the Lubero territory, the fourth territory in the North Kivu province that the group has entered after Rutshuru, Nyiragongo and Masisi.

Influx of displaced people

"The population is there (in Kanyabayonga), especially those who had moved from the territory of Rutshuru to Lubero," the administrative official said.

"They no longer have anywhere to go, it is total desolation, the population is tired," he added.

One resident told AFP that the M23 asked residents to stay in Kanyabayonga during a meeting in the centre of the town held by M23 spokesperson Willy Ngoma on Saturday.

"It is a situation that worries us," he added.

Read more on RFI English

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