According to Radio Okapi, on January 24, local armed groups Wazalendo and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) successfully regained control of Mweso, a key locality in the Masisi territory. This strategic victory was achieved after intense fighting with the M23 rebels and local militias. The battles, characterized by the use of heavy weaponry, have been ongoing for three days, significantly impacting the region.
The M23 rebels, who had occupied Kushana and Mweso since last November despite the presence of the East African Community (EAC) forces, faced a surprise offensive from the FARDC and local armed groups early on Wednesday. This attack successfully dislodged them from the town.
The local population of Mweso woke up to a state of intense fear and anxiety due to the violent clashes within and around their community. Many residents sought refuge in nearby areas such as Mpati, while others took shelter in the general hospital and the Mweso parish.
Local leaders have reported that the FARDC and allied groups caught the rebels off guard in the morning, leading to their retreat from the town. However, fighting continued in the areas of Mbuhi, Kanyangohe, and Bukama, located approximately 2 to 4 kilometers from Mweso.
Following their withdrawal, the M23 rebels are believed to have retreated to the hills. Reinforcements for the rebels, coming from Kilolirwe, Kitshanga, and Bwiza, have been observed moving along various routes. In addition to this, gunshots were heard in Kitshanga this morning, though further details on this incident remain unclear.