M23 vows retaliation against state army

By Esther Muhozi
On 18 January 2024 at 08:49

The M23 rebel group, active in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, revealed the loss of two senior members on January 16, 2023, creating a significant void in its relationship with the local population. On January 17, 2023, M23 asserted that the soldiers were killed in a drone attack on their base in Kitchanga, Masisi territory, allegedly orchestrated by the Congolese State Army.

The casualties were identified as Colonel Castro Mberabagabo, responsible for intelligence and relations with M23 and its supporters, and Colonel Erasto Bahati, an advisor to General Sultan Makenga, who succumbed to injuries on Tuesday.

According to Major Willy Ngoma, M23 military spokesperson, the killing of these soldiers was seen as a provocation by the Congolese forces, despite a previous agreement to cease hostilities.

Major Ngoma emphasized the crucial roles played by the deceased M23 members in supporting and comforting the local population during conflicts, highlighting the significant gap their loss has left within the movement.

In response, Major Ngoma accused the DRC State Army of initiating the attack, stating, "They came to attack us. Then two officers were involved in comforting the people, like when the government dropped bombs on houses, hospitals, and schools, men who lived close to the people, listened to the people, helped them, they were brave commanders, they killed them."

He issued a warning of consequences for the Congolese forces, stating, "They will pay a heavy price. We are strong, we are ready for our purpose. This is seeking death. They did what they shouldn’t have done. We are prepared as professional soldiers."

The DRC army, with the support of the Southern African Community (SADC), declared its readiness to swiftly expel M23 from the areas it has occupied, urging the displaced population to trust their efforts.