Inside DRC

Mai Mai, M23 rebels hit Congo again, dozens dead

M23 rebels holding the main city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Several people were killed in clashes between the army and former rebels at a military base in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said.

Tension had been mounting for days at the military base in Kamina, in the southeast, where more than 2,000 former rebels from various groups are stationed as part of a government disarmament programme.

It was unclear how many had died in the bloody clashes, with one rebel source putting the number of dead at around 10 while an army source said at least 20 people had been killed.

Regional governor Celestin Mbuyu said one lieutenant from the Congolese army was among the dead, “killed with a machete by rebels… who were headed to the city centre to loot it”.

More than 2,300 former rebels are stationed in the Kamina base, including members of the ethnic-based Mai-Mai militia and the M23 movement.

After the defeat of M23 in 2013, the government launched a programme to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate — known as DDR3 — more than 12,000 former rebels.

But the programme, the third of its kind since the end of the Second Congo War in 2003, has been hit by delays and funding problems.

Kamina has previously faced a mutiny from the disgruntled former rebels, who have complained about the living standards on the base.

A Western military source said the latest clashes exposes the limitations of the DDR3 programme and may deter other rebels from laying down arms and hamper the repatriation of former M23 refugees to Rwanda and Uganda.

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