Congo army confirms rebel leader, aides slain in Kivu

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Sylvestre Mudacumura [extreme left]

The 34th military region of North Kivu has confirmed the death of Sylvestre Mudacumura, leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda [FDLR] rebel group.

Congo army’s Gal R. Kasonga said Mudacumura was killed with his closest lieutenants by the FARDC in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday in the chiefdom of Bwito, territory of Rutshuru.

“The neutralization of Sylvestre Mudacumura is good news for the Congolese army because he was the head of the radical branch of the FDLR which opposed voluntary repatriation to Rwanda,” Kasonga noted.

He added: “Its neutralisation is a strong signal for the other rebels.”

On the same day, suspected FDLR rebels kidnapped about 30 Congolese villagers in Kisharo, (100 km north from Goma) on the Kiwanja-Ishasha road in Rutshuru territory.

This is known FDLR territory. According to images on social media, even their leader is seen donning military uniforms worn by RDF, the Rwandan army.

Mudacumura was the overall commander of the military wing of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), known as the Forces Combatants Abacunguzi (FOCA).

He was the deputy commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces during the 1994 genocide.

Described as being age 55 in 2009, prior to the genocide he attended “the leadership academy of the armed forces in Hamburg” on a two year scholarship.

Since 2003, there has been tension within the FDLR as Mudacumura has replaced ‘easterners’ with ‘westerners’ in the command structure.

He is implicated in the December 2006 death of the former FOCA second in command, Colonel Jean Baptist Kanyandekwe, who died of poisoning at a party thrown by the FOCA head.

In another case, a senior FDLR deserter from the Reserve Brigade told UN officials that Lt. Col. Félicien Nzabanita, commander of the Reserve Brigade, which conducted several of the larger attacks on civilians during Umoja Wetu and Kimia II, “never made any decisions unless they were coming from Mudacumura.”

He has been sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control under Executive Order 13413 and the United Nations Security Council’s Consolidated Travel Ban and Assets Freeze List.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought an arrest warrant against him, alleging responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 2009-10 in the Kivus. The warrant was issued on 13 July 2012.

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