Troops in the DR Congo clashed with M23 rebels north of the key eastern city of Goma on Sunday, officials said, in the latest violence to hit the troubled region.
Army sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the military was engaging the M23 in Mwaro, a village about 20 kilometers north of Goma.
“We woke up to fighting this morning,” one army official told AFP.
A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 has recently surged across the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, capturing swathes of territory.
In a statement dated Saturday, the group accused the Congolese army of conducting “barbarian bombings” in heavily populated areas — killing 15 civilians, including two children.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll.
The clashes come one day after Kenyan troops deployed to eastern DRC, as part of a military operation from the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) to stabilize the volatile region.
Over 120 armed groups are active across eastern Congo, many a legacy of regional wars which flared at the turn of the century.
The M23 briefly captured Goma in 2012, before being driven out.
After lying dormant, the group took up arms again late last year, claiming that the DRC had failed to honor a promise to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.
The rebel group’s resurgence has cratered relations between the DRC and its smaller neighbor Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing the M23.
Despite official denials from Kigali, an unpublished report for the United Nations seen by AFP in August pointed to Rwandan involvement with the M23.
Kenya’s ex-president Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC’s mediator for the situation, is due in the DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Sunday for talks.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco also met Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Saturday, after visiting Rwanda the previous day.