North-Kivu: M23 Takes Control of the Katsiru Village

On February 10, 2024, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Nord-Kivu province witnessed significant upheaval as the strategic locality of Katsiru, with an estimated population of 30,000 within the Bukombo group, fell under the control of M23 rebels, reportedly with assistance from Rwanda. This event has led to a considerable displacement of the local population, with hundreds seeking refuge in nearby areas such as Nyanzale, Kikuku, Mirangi, Birundule, Kabirangiriro, and even in fields within the Bukombo group itself, following intense combat that began in the early hours of the day.

The conflict, which erupted around 5 a.m. on February 10, centered around the hills near Katsiru in the territories of Rutshuru, specifically within the regions known as Gaza and Kanyamabugu. The escalation led to M23, alongside the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF), seizing control of Katsiru by 5:45 p.m. after a day filled with fierce fighting.

Local reports indicate that the conflict started when Rwandan forces attacked early in the morning, facing resistance from local youth groups known as Wazalendo. Despite their efforts, the overwhelming power of the attackers forced residents to flee their homes by late afternoon, leaving behind their possessions and livelihoods. One displaced resident from Katsiru shared their harrowing experience, highlighting the sudden and devastating impact of the conflict on their lives.

In addition to the situation in Katsiru, fighting has also been reported in the Kibumba area, where the Wazalendo reportedly reclaimed the Ruhunda 2 market, with ongoing conflicts focusing on the Nyundo hill. Another significant clash occurred in the village of Kanyamahoro, in the Nyiragongo territory north of Goma, along the Goma-Rutshuru highway. The civil society of Nyiragongo confirmed that Rwandan forces initiated an attack on positions held by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in the area.

Amidst these turbulent events, Willy Ngoma, the spokesperson for M23, made a statement via his X account, claiming that the government coalition, which he referred to as the “axis of evil,” was simultaneously attacking their positions along the Mweso and Kibumba axes. He assured that the situation was under control from their perspective.

As of now, the Congolese government has not issued an official response to these latest developments.