Almost 40 Banyamulenge, the ethnic Tutsi concentrated on the High Plateau of South Kivu, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been killed by rebels backed by a new military force operating in the area.
Homes have been torched and resistance groups slaughtered while mothers and children are flocking forests in fear of their lives.
In forests, many have succumbed to malaria and snake bites, according to local leaders.
Alexis Byicaza, Leader of political party known as “Innovative Forces for Union and Congolese Democracy”, says Banyamulenge’s territory was invaded by “well trained military men with armor and heavy weapons.”
The Banyamulenge forces decided to fight back on June, 12, 2019.
Byicaza says the rebels are “now outnumbering civilians who are defending themselves and they killed many people then they managed to control all those villages now.”
He added: “This is genocide planned against Banyamulenge people.”
ChimpReports recently reported that a military force, with support from rebels, attacked Banyamulenge in Minembwe, DRC.
Minembwe was said to be an operations area for Rwandan dissident general Kayumba Nyamwasa. Kigali accuses Nyamwasa of planning to overthrow President Paul Kagame.
But the militants said to be loyal to Nyamwasa reportedly left the area towards North Kivu before the military force invaded Minembwe.
The Banyamulenge say Mai-Mai factions and Red Tabara rebels, who are fighting the government of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, were armed by a regional country.
“About 36 people have been confirmed dead while others are hospitalised in critical condition. The presence of a new military force has emboldened the Red Tabura and Mai Mai to increase attacks on the Banyamulenge civilian population,” said a local leader who preferred anonymity to speak freely.
“People are fleeing to areas where there is malaria and are not familiar with that climate. So many of them are being killed by diseases and hunger in the forests.”
Currently Red-Tabara and associated militias are occupying several villages including Bibogobogo, Kabembwe, Mugono, Rutabura, Nyagisozi, Mugorore and Kavumu.
The Banyamulenge, a stateless minority of the South Kivu population, say regional leaders are looking on as rebels terrorise their communities.
“We are on our own,” said Nkusi, a local leader, “No one seems interested in what we are going through.”
The Banyamulenge are said to be loyal to Burundi’s Nkurunziza and hostile to Rwanda.
Kigali believes Nyamwasa was actively recruiting and training Banyamulenge in Minembwe to attack Rwanda, claims the exiled General denies.
The situation, if not handled, could pose serious ramifications for regional security.
The defeat of Banyamulenge who have previously provided a buffer zone for Burundi against Red Tabura militants could threaten the government of Nkurunziza.
This is likely to compel Nkurunziza to reinforce deployments at the border or even move into DRC to help the Banyamulenge against the Red Tabura.
On the hand, the Rwandans who want Nyamwasa’s rebels out of South Kivu could put up resistance, raising the prospect of a possible regional war.