BUKAVU – Fifteen people have been killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in clashes between troops and rebels loyal to a former general, the army said Monday.
It said the fighting was continuing Monday in Fizi, a region of South Kivu, a mineral-rich province which is prone to ethnic tensions.
The unrest is another front in the push by rebels to oust President Joseph Kabila as the poverty-stricken DRC limps towards a much-delayed presidential election slated for 23 December.
“The rebels have already lost 12 fighters, including the commander Alida,” the deputy head of the rebels, an army spokesman in the region, Captain Dieudonne Kaserek, told AFP.
“Three soldiers drowned in a river with their weapons,” he added.
The clashes pit the army against rebels loyal to a former army general, William Amuri Yakutumba, opposed to Kabila.
The militia is allied to rebels of the National Liberation Front based in neighbouring Burundi, according to several regional sources.
In September of last year the Yakutumba rebels attacked the town of Uvira on Lake Tanganyika opposite the Burundian capital Bujumbura. UN forces pushed them back with Congolese support.
In February the military said they had wiped out the Yakutumba with help from Burundi, where some of them had taken refuge.
The Fizi region was the cradle of the rebellion by Laurent-Desire Kabila, father of the current president, who ousted Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997.
The former Belgian colony has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960.