M23 rebels clashed with soldiers on two fronts in eastern DR Congo on Tuesday, officials said, despite a regional ceasefire deal due to take effect the same day.
According to aid workers, fighting erupted on Monday in North Kivu province, where the Tutsi-led M23 has captured swathes of territory since resuming activity in late 2021.
On Tuesday morning, rebels and troops were still involved in clashes despite a ceasefire, brokered by Angola, that was due to start at noon.
“The fighting continues,” said a security official in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, the army’s spokesman in North Kivu, said late Monday the M23 “and their sponsors from the Rwanda Defence Force” had attacked a recently deployed Burundian contingent of an East African regional military force.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, who have displaced over half a million people and are edging closer to the city of Goma, a trade hub.
UN experts, the United States, as well as several other western countries, agree with the assessment, although Rwanda denies it.
The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) decided to create a military force to stabilise eastern Congo last year, with the first troops arriving in Goma in November.
On 3 March, the Angolan presidency, which is mediating the conflict , announced a ceasefire for eastern DRC due to take effect at noon on Tuesday.
The announcement followed several other failed regional peace initiatives.
Both sides accuse the other of triggering the fresh round of clashes.
M23 spokesman Willy Ngoma told the French press agency AFP on Tuesday that the group was defending itself after the regular army attacked all of the group’s positions simultaneously.
(With news agencies)