Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) officials claimed on Monday, October 26, to have ousted Burundian National Forces of Liberation (FNL) rebels from their strongholds in South Kivu province following weeks of intensive security operations in the region. At least 27 FNL fighters are reported to have been killed during the government offensive in the Itombwe, Fizi, and Uvira districts since Friday, October 23, with other members of the group retreating towards Muranvia, Nyaburunda, Kashongo, and Nyanzale Rudaga. Three FARDC soldiers are also reported to have been killed in the operation and a further four wounded.
The FARDC launched a major offensive against the FNL and two other Burundian rebel groups, the National Resistance Council for Democracy (CNRD) and Red Tabara, in South Kivu in September following several cross-border attacks on communities and security forces in Burundi. The offensive has been successful at dislodging the rebel groups from several areas of the region. However, the numerous armed groups remain active in South Kivu, and security forces reportedly clashed with CNRD and Mai-Mai Kijangala fighters during the recent weekend operations, as well as those affiliated with the FNL.
Further security operations and rebel activity are likely in the South Kivu region in the medium term.
Several Burundian rebel groups, namely the FNL, CNRD, and Red Tabara, have long maintained a presence in the DRC's restive South Kivu region, from where they have launched sporadic attacks and incursions into Burundi. However, the groups have become increasingly active in areas in recent months, causing hundreds of local residents in Burundi's Rumonge province to flee their communities and prompting the government to commit additional security forces to the region.
As well as the recent offensive by the FARDC, Burundian forces are also believed to have staged a number of cross-border operations against the rebel groups in an effort to prevent incursions.
Those in South Kivu are advised to remain vigilant for rebel and militia activity, monitor developments in their own particular area of operations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Any essential overland movement should be undertaken with comprehensive journey management and security procedures in place following a thorough localized threat assessment.
A number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the east and northeast of the country, including South Kivu, due to poor security conditions, including the presence of armed groups and a high risk of kidnapping. Professional security advice should be sought prior to travel.
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