Rebels supported by a regional power have resumed attacks in areas inhabited by Banyamulenge in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving scores dead.
ChimpReports understands the attacks led by Red Tabara rebels started on Sunday.
The rebels attacked the Banyamulenge living in Bijanda.
Thousands of people from Mibunda were compelled to flee toward Minembwe where the Banyamulenge’s self-defense forces known as ‘Twirwaneho’ are concentrated.
Several Banyamulenge leaders told ChimpReports on Wednesday that attacks had continued, causing a mass exodus of people including women and children from their homes to forests where they are dying of malaria.
Alexis Byicaza Sebatware, the Head of Innovative Forces for Union and Congolese Democracy, expressed alarm at the worsening security situation in South Kivu.
“It is very unfortunate to see how the Banyamulenge tribe is threatened by Congolese rebels in association with Burundian rebels who are fighting to overthrow the Burundian regime,” said Byicaza.
“Previously, they killed and burnt the homes of innocent civilians. Today, they are attacking Banyamulenge and this is done in the presence of the Congolese army which is instructed not to intervene.”
Leaders in South Kivu say the government of President Felix Tshisekedi has turned a blind eye to the situation in the Banyamulenge communities possibly to please Rwanda.
Rwandan Special Forces have been operating in Minembwe Mountains, Kamombo and Kundondo hunting down rebels they say intend to overthrow president Paul Kagame.
Tshisekedi and Kagame have in recent months worked closely to eliminate the rebel threat in South Kivu.
Byicaza described the killings in the area as “genocide” and appealed to the regional and international community to intervene.
“What is happening is genocide. The people are hunted down like animals and killed. Their property is looted or torched,” said Byicaza.
“President Tshisekedi promised to protect the innocent civilians in North and South Kivu against the rebels but the army is looking sheepishly. This betrayal must be addressed,” he added.
The security developments in South Kivu underscore the growing tensions in the region.
Burundi which is close to Minembwe is an interested party as the Banyamulenge communities serve as a counter force against rebels fighting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.
Rwanda, which is conducting military operations in South and North Kivu, fears the growth of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) movement in DRC.
Ethnic Tutsis, the Banyamulenge first moved to the region some 200 years ago.
Ever since the First Congo War of 1996-7, when Rwanda led an invasion of Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire, they have found themselves foreigners in their own country, accused by other residents of disloyalty.
During the conflict, as a UN report later documented, armed groups working with the Zairian national army massacred hundreds of Banyamulenge civilians.