DR Congo says five people killed in rebel bombing of eastern town

By Yassin Kombi

BUTEMBO, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - At least five people, including three women and a girl, were killed in the bombardment of a town in eastern Congo's North Kivu province on Wednesday, an army spokesperson said, accusing the M23 rebel group of the attack.

The deaths illustrate the worsening civilian fallout from the more than two-year conflict between Congolese forces and the Rwanda-backed M23 militia, which has displaced at least 1.5 million people, according to U.N. data.

Bombs hit a neighbourhood of Kanyabayonga town in the afternoon, said Mak Hazukay, an army spokesperson in Congo's North Kivu province, where the insurgency broke out in early 2022.

Hazukay blamed the M23 for the attack, which he said also wounded three people. It was not immediately possible to reach the M23 for comment.

The conflict, the most sustained offensive by the M23 since a 2012-2013 insurrection, has deepened a humanitarian crisis in a region that has had little respite since Rwanda and Uganda invaded almost three decades ago.

The latest attack happened just as some displaced people had started to return to Kanyabayonga, deputy mayor Baraka Mungumwa told Reuters.

"But because of the bombs dropped on the city today, since there were many, the people have left the area," he said, estimating that only around 20% of the population of around 63,000 remained.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Leslie Adler)