By Our Reporter

DRC: More than 20 Congolese soldiers have been killed in an attack by the M23 rebel group on an army position in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) conflict-wracked east.

According to civil society and local government sources the attack was launched on Monday night in Nyesisi, North Kivu province near the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO-listed world heritage site home to endangered mountain gorillas and clashes were continuing on Wednesday.

The armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo {FARDC}, did not confirm the death toll, nor did aid workers, due to difficulties accessing the scene of the fighting.

However, Gentil Karabukala, civil society head of Kisigari near Nyesisi, said that 29 soldiers were killed in the attack.

The Chief of staff to Rutshuru territory’s administrator, Lieutenant Colonel Muhindo Lwanzo, said that one of the slain soldiers was a Colonel and the rebels also suffered casualties but their numbers are unknown.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a US-based monitor of violence in the region, said that the M23 killed at least 26 soldiers including Colonel Ndume.

A spokesman for the group, Willy Ngoma, told journalists that their Forces merely retaliating against attacks launched by the FARDC against its positions since October.

A separate attack was waged on Monday night in the neighbouring Ituri province attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), believed to be the Central African country’s deadliest militia and the ADF are suspected of being behind the attack in Mutueyi which killed at least 11 civilians.

North Kivu and Ituri have been under a “state of siege” since May last year – a measure aimed at speeding the response to armed groups by replacing senior civilian officers with officers from the security forces.

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have launched joint military operations against the ADF, with Ugandan forces mounting air and artillery raids against the group’s bases and sending thousands of troops across the border.

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