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M23 rebels seize more territory in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo on Sunday, June 30, claimed to have captured Kirumba, a commercial centre in North Kivu province, after they had marched on Kanyabayonga town on Saturday.

Kirumba, the second biggest town in Lubero territory, fell into the hands of the rebels earlier on Saturday evening, a local official told AFP.

A video posted by M23 spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka on Sunday showed what he called “immense logistics,” including ammunition abandoned by the government-led coalitions forces in Kirumba.

Kanyuka said the government in Kinshasa continued to ignore the rebel group’s calls for peace talks.

On Saturday, M23 seized the strategic town of Kanyabayonga, as other surrounding areas also fell into the hands of the rebels.

The Congolese government partially admitted the fall of Kanyabayonga.

The Superior Defence Council convened on Saturday night chaired by President Felix Tshisekedi and the “deterioration of the security in Kanyabayonga,” local media reported.

The high-level meeting proposed measures to be taken to “restore order and retake localities.”

Kanyabayonga is home to 60,000 people and is considered a pathway to Butembo and Beni to the north.

Other towns near Kanyabayonga have also been seized by M23, according to officials and security sources who spoke to AFP.

The M23 rebels accuse the Congolese army (FARDC) of cooperating with negative militia groups such the FDLR, a UN-sanctioned militia linked to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which have destabilized eastern DR Congo for nearly 30 years.

The FDLR is accused of spreading an anti-Tutsi genocidal ideology in eastern DR Congo and the persecution of Congolese Tutsi communities.

The Congolese government coalition also includes forces from the Southern African Development Community, Burundian soldiers, local youth groups and European mercenaries.

Eastern DR Congo has been volatile for about three decades. It is home to more than 200 local and foreign armed groups.

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