Nine Congolese soldiers were killed in an ambush by Rwandan Hutu rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a military source said on Tuesday, over a month after the army launched a sweeping offensive against the militia.
The attack by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) happened on Monday afternoon in eastern Masisi district of North Kivu, said Major General Leo Mushale, who commands forces in the northeast of the country.
Three officers were among the dead, including commander of Masisi district Colonel Raphael Bawili, Mushale said at a press conference in Goma, the capital of North Kivu.
“The enemy was able to carry out this ambush because a number of Congolese continue to collaborate with them,” said the general.
“We have not yet eradicated the FDLR but they are being neutralised by our forces and we ask the public not to collaborate with the enemy,” he added.
In late February DRC forces launched a fresh offensive against rebels active in the restive eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.
The FDLR, a militia of Rwandan Hutu rebels, has been active in DRC since crossing over the border from Rwanda after the 1994 genocide of Tutsi people there and the subsequent seizure of power by a Tutsi-led rebel faction.
Some of the Hutu militia’s older commanders and soldiers are wanted by international courts for their alleged role in the massacre, which claimed the lives of at least 800 000 people in Rwanda, mainly from the Tutsi minority.
Since the launch of the operation five weeks ago, the army claimed to have “neutralised” a few hundred rebels, according to General Mushale, out of a fighting force of around 2,000.
Mushale confirmed only that 13 rebels had been killed and refused to give the total number of army losses.
In late March, the UN security council voted to cut 2 000 troops from the 20 000-strong peacekeeping force in the country, despite calls by Kinshasa for UN troops to handover responsibility for security to the country’s army.
Burkina law bars ex-president’s allies from running for office
Lawmakers in Burkina Faso modified the electoral code on Tuesday to prevent people from standing for office if they had supported a failed move last year to allow then-president Blaise Compaore to seek a new term.
The country is run by a transitional government ahead of elections in October, and current ministers are also not authorised to run for president.
Compaore was ousted from power last October in the face of mass protests against the bid by his supporters to revise article 37 of the constitution. He seized power in a coup in 1987 in Burkina Faso, a country that produces gold and cotton.
Under the new law, “anybody is ineligible [to run] who supported the unconstitutional change that threatened the principle of democratic choice and especially the principle of presidential term limits.”
The law applies to all elections in 2015 and 2016 and effectively bars members of Compaore’s government and the leaders of his Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party as well as the former president’s allies.
Deputies from the previous parliamentary majority who supported Compaore said the law could weaken social cohesion. The CDP rejected the law and said it was an attempt by a small group of activists to confiscate power.
Security forces on Tuesday dispersed youth supporters of Compaore outside the headquarters of the transitional national council.
Separately, police said on Tuesday that they had arrested eight members of Compaore’s regime including former minister for mines and energy Salif Lamoussa Kabore for offences including embezzlement, disturbing the peace and illegal political activity.