A Rwandan-backed Congolese rebel group has arrested 10 members of its mutinous faction, forcing its leader, "Commandant" Patrick Masunzu, to flee to a forest some 100 km outside Minembwe, South Kivu, a rebel official told IRIN on Tuesday.
The head of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) Department of Justice and Human Rights, Moise Nyarugabo, said that Masunzu had been "chased out" of Minembwe and had not been captured, as some media had reported. Nyarugabo added that the mutineers, captured in Uvira, South Kivu, had been accused of collaborating with the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsis) leader, and that an investigation was under way.
Nyarugabo said some 200 of Masunzu's forces - a mixture of Interahamwe (Rwandan Hutu militiamen) and Banyamulenge - abandoned him over the weekend and rejoined RCD-Goma.
"Firstly because they realised that Masunzu has no objectives, that they didn't know why they were fighting," Nyarugabo said. "Secondly because when they saw that the Interahamwe were fighting alongside Masunzu, they couldn't fight alongside them. They saw it as a kind of treason fighting on the same side as the Interahamwe, so they left and rejoined RCD."
Despite this defection, Nyarugabo said Masunzu still had several hundred supporters with him.
Humanitarian sources told IRIN at the beginning of July that "a humanitarian crisis" was unfolding in the south of South Kivu Province due to displacement caused by fighting in the region. One worker described it as "one of the hottest spots" in the country. Tens of thousands of people are reportedly in need of dry food rations, blankets, warm clothing and medicines, as fighting - Mayi-Mayi militia groups, Interahamwe, Burundi rebel group Forces pour la defense de la democratie, and Masunzu's forces all fighting Rwandan and Rwanda-backed forces in the plateau - continues to deny humanitarian agents access to the affected area.
"There has been no humanitarian access to the High Plateau of South Kivu since fighting intensified in early June," one humanitarian worker said.
However, on Tuesday, Nyarugabo described Uvira as "very calm" and said there was no fighting around Minembwe.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions