The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed the deaths of two of its commanders, following an attack by government forces on January 16, 2024. This attack is viewed by the M23 as a violation of the existing ceasefire. The names of the deceased commanders were not disclosed in the statement from M23. However, sources within the group identified the commanders as the rebel group’s intelligence chief, “Colonel” Mberabagabo, also known as “Castro”, and strategy adviser Eraston Bahati.
The incident involved a drone strike by the Congolese army in the town of Kitshanga, located in North Kivu province’s Masisi territory. This strike represents a significant escalation in the conflict, as the Congolese army and its allies, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops, have begun using Chinese-made combat drones against rebel positions. The fighting has involved not only the Congolese army and the M23 but also local armed militias and two private military companies contracted by the government.
The situation in the DRC remains complex and volatile, with various factions and external influences contributing to the ongoing conflict. The involvement of neighboring Rwanda has been a point of contention, with Western governments and the United Nations accusing Rwanda of supporting the M23, a claim that Kigali has consistently denied.