Massacre claim overshadows DRC peace talks

A third round of peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo government and rebel movements opened Nov. 30. But the M23 armed group—which has seized large chunks of territory in recent months—was not invited. A government spokesperson said the insurgents must vacate occupied areas before they can join the talks. More than 50 armed and civil society groups are present at the dialogue, being held in Kenya under the auspices of the East African Community. Those attending have been told to cease hostilities and join a new program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate combatants into society. Rwanda, accused of backing the M23, has also been invited to this round of talks.

However, talks are largely overshadowed by accusations of a massacre of 50 civilians by the M23 in the town of Kishishe, Noth Kivu province. In a statement, the M23 rejected the claims and accused the DRC government and the rival Mai-Mai militia of preparing a "genocide" against Congolese Tutsi communities. The M23 meanwhile continue their advance on the provincial capital of Goma.

Almost six million people are currently internally displaced in DR Congo—one of the highest figures in the world. (The New Humanitarian, RFI, The New Times, Rwanda, via AllAfrica)

DRC: 270 dead in Kishishe massacre?

The Democratic Republic of Congo government is now saying the death toll at Kishishe stands at 270, and that many of the bodies were found in the village church. A spokesman said the massacre proves the M23 are a "terrorist" group that must be "dealt with by the community"—a reference to the East African intervention force in DRC's eastern region. (PRI)