The Democratic Republic of Congo national army has recaptured a number of localities in the Biza group within the Rutshuru territory in North Kivu from rebels of the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda FDLR-Nyantura coalition.
The recaptured towns include Rwamisisi, Kakoti, Rusebeya, Kitwa and Nyamitwitwi.
Major Njike Kaiko Guillaume, spokesperson of the North Kivu Soloka 2 Operational Sector, who accompanied General Mweu Lumbu Evariste, the Commander of the sector, on an inspection tour of the area on Tuesday January revealed that the FDLR forces and their Nyantura allies had turned the recaptured towns into a zone where they held the citizens to ransom.
“It was necessary to dislodge them at all cost because when taxes are illegally imposed on the population which subsists only on farming, you can see the damage it does,” Guillaume said.
“And as we are talking to you now, we have dislodged them and the military action is continuing with intensity to the hideouts where they are now. The provisional casualties now stand at five assailants neutralized and a large number of arms recovered.”
Residents of the recaptured localities who have been living at the mercy of the rebels have been thanking the Congolese national army for rescuing them from the firm grip of the rebels.
“When these rebels were still controlling the zone, each one of us was paying 1,000 FCFA (about US$2) before being allowed into his/her farm,” revealed Kambale Mulyata, a farmer.
“During the harvest season, we were obliged to pay 5,000 FCFA (about US$10) out of the proceeds from sales from each half hectare, as was the case with me when I harvested my groundnuts and they demanded 10,000 FCFA (about US$20) per hectare. Since the national army started protecting us, nobody pays this ransom anymore.”
The Rutshuru territory is currently facing several forms of insecurity including murders, kidnappings, theft and rape against women by armed rebels of the FDLR, the Nyantura, the Mai-mai and the Collectif des mouvements pour le changement (CMC), all of which groups have not been adhering to the disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion process put in place by the United Nations.