Army clashes with rebels kill 18 in eastern DR Congo
A police man stand guards as supporters of Congolese main opposition figures, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Felix Tshisekedi and his running mate leader of the Union for the Congolese Nation (Union pour la Nation Congolaise, UNC) Vital Kamerhe celebrate and cheer in the street of Kinshasa during their arrival in Kinshasa on November 27, 2018. – Tens of thousands of supporters turned out to welcome Congolese opposition scion Felix Tshisekedi as he returned to Kinshasa on November 27, 2018 to kick off his campaign to replace President Joseph Kabila in next month’s election. Their decision to run on a joint ticket came just days after the pair had withdrawn their support for an agreement hammered out in Geneva in which seven opposition parties coalesced around a joint candidate in order to boost the opposition’s chance of victory. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)
The fighting killed 14 rebels and four soldiers in Fizi, a region of South Kivu, a mineral-rich province which is prone to ethnic tensions, the sources said.
The unrest is another front by rebels opposed to President Joseph Kabila as the poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo prepares for a much-delayed presidential election on December 23.
The military sources said one soldier and two rebels were killed early Monday in fighting.
Earlier, regional army spokesman Captain Dieudonne Kaserek, told AFP 12 rebel fighters had been killed including a deputy commander known as Alida. He said three of the soldiers drowned in a river during combat.
The clashes pit the army against rebels loyal to a former army general, William Amuri Yakutumba, who is opposed to Kabila.
The militia is allied to rebels of the National Liberation Front based in neighbouring Burundi, according to several regional sources.
In September of last year, the Yakutumba rebels attacked the town of Uvira on Lake Tanganyika opposite the Burundian capital Bujumbura. UN forces pushed them back with Congolese support.
In February the military said they had wiped out the Yakutumba with help from Burundi, where some of them had taken refuge.
The Fizi region was the cradle of the rebellion by Laurent-Desire Kabila, father of the current president, who ousted Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997.
The former Belgian colony has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960.