Clashes erupted in eastern Congo on Thursday between the army and M23 rebels, a civil society and a rebel source said, a day after the presidents of Congo and Rwanda agreed to reduce diplomatic tensions over the uprising. .
The M23, which the Congo Rwanda accuses of supporting, launched a major offensive in the eastern borderlands at the end of March and seized an important border post and other towns despite army efforts to stop its advance.
Rwanda denies supporting the M23 and in turn has accused the Congo of fighting alongside another armed group seeking to seize power in Kigali.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi met in Angola on Wednesday and agreed on a roadmap that includes an immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of M23 fighters from the Congo.
Willy Ngoma, spokesperson for M23, described the Luanda agreement as “an illusion”.
“Only the M23 can sign the ceasefire with the government,” he said.
The new clashes took place around the sites of Kanyabusoro and Kazuba in Rutshuru area, forcing residents to flee their homes, said the president of a local group in civil society, Jean-Pierre Karabuka.
Ngoma said there was an exchange of fire after Congolese troops attacked a rebel position around Kanyabusoro.
The Congolese army spokesperson for the province, Sylvain Ekenge, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The M23 fighters have been conducting their most sustained offensive since occupying parts of the area in 2012-2013, after which they were defeated by the Congolese and United Nations forces and chased into Rwanda and Uganda.
The Congo has accepted a proposal that an East African regional force be deployed in its east to help control the violence, but only if Rwanda does not participate. Kagame said he had no problem with Rwanda not being involved.