Congolese forces have killed a rebel leader and four of his bodyguards in a security operation in the restive east of the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) army said.
Troops killed Hutu rebel leader “Musabimana Juvenal, alias general Jean-Michel Africa… following an intense clash” on Saturday at Rutshuru in North Kivu province, a statement from the army seen by AFP news agency said.
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“Operations remain under way around Rutshuru to wipe out armed local and foreign groups,” Major Guillaume Ndjike Kaiko, regional military spokesman, said.
Juvenal was a leader with the ethnic Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) formed in the DRC in the aftermath of the 1994 Tutsi genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.
His killing comes barely two months after that of another FDLR commander, Sylvestre Mudacumura, in September. Mudacumura had been the subject of an international arrest warrant since 2012.
Rwandan Hutu refugees created the FDLR across the border in eastern DRC after the bloodbath which left some 800,000 dead, according to UN estimates.
Early last month, five men arrested following an attack in northern Rwanda that left five dead admitted to being FDLR rebels.
The FDLR has also been a source of friction between Rwanda and Uganda in the last year. Rwanda accused Uganda in March of supporting the FDLR and another DRC-based rebel group opposed to the Rwandan government. Uganda denied the allegations.
Elsewhere in the country, military sources told AFP news agency four civilians were killed late on Saturday in an attack by Ugandan rebels near the northeastern city of Beni.
The sources said 25 rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group were killed over several days of clashes, with the army losing six soldiers.
Saturday’s attack ascribed to the ADF occurred at Eringeti, some 60km (40 miles) from Beni.
Regional army spokesman Mak Hazukai told AFP the army was “pursuing operations” against the armed group, adding the latter had suffered “heavy losses”.
Authorities in DRC hold the ADF, one of the most violent of some 130 active armed groups in the country’s east, responsible for the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Beni since October 2014.
Since April, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL or ISIS) armed group has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks, but no proof has emerged of a link between it and the ADF.