Conflict in Goma, DRC: Renewed Clashes Between M23 Rebels and Wazalendo Resisters

On the morning of Monday, January 22, 2024, conflict reignited in the vicinity of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The skirmishes unfolded along the Kanyamahoro-Buhumba axis within the Nyiragongo territory, a stone’s throw from Goma. Local sources report intense confrontations between M23 rebels and the Wazalendo resistance fighters. The air around Kanyamahoro and Kibumba, near Virunga Park, reverberated with the sounds of both heavy and light gunfire.

Eyewitness accounts suggest a determined offensive by M23 rebels against Wazalendo strongholds. These sources detailed how the rebels launched bombs, some even targeting positions held by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). This aggressive move by the M23 has raised concerns about the escalating violence in the region.

In a contrasting statement, M23 spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka, using his X account (formerly known as Twitter), painted a different picture. Kanyuka claimed that a coalition of forces, including the FARDC, FDLR, mercenaries, militias, the National Defence Forces of Burundi, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces, initiated an attack on densely populated areas around Mweso at around 5:40 am. He portrayed the M23’s response as a professional defense of the civilian population, asserting that their actions successfully routed the coalition forces, who subsequently abandoned their weapons on the battlefield.

The situation in Goma and its surrounding areas remains tense and volatile. The contrasting narratives from the M23 and local sources highlight the complex and multifaceted nature of the conflict.