Fighting between rival factions of the M23 rebel movement in the northeastern Rutshuru region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has left 10 dead, a hospital source in Rutshuru said Monday.
The provincial hospital said that 10 bodies were counted after the clashes on Sunday night, while two injured men were taken in for medical treatment.
The fighting broke out because of differences within the ranks of the March 23 Movement (M23) over the stance the rebels should take regarding a peace deal that was signed Sunday by regional leaders in Addis Ababa, according to a Western military source. The goal of the accord was to bring peace to war-torn eastern DR Congo.
Supporters of General Sultani Makenga, the military chief of M23, reportedly battled those of Jean-Marie Runiga, the movement's political leader. Runiga had earlier announced plans to resume fighting against the DR Congo's army because peace talks in the Ugandan capital Kampala between the rebels and the Kinshasa government were getting nowhere.
Makenga was believed to oppose a resumption of conflict. Both men went to the Rwandan capital Kinshasa last week to hold talks, according to a Western source in Goma, the chief town in troubled North Kivu province. When they returned, Runiga was placed under house arrest in Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda, the source added.
On Sunday, while 11 heads of state, including presidents Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, were in the Ethiopian capital to sign the framework agreement in the presence of UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Runiga decided that he would return to Rutshuru.
When he arrived in the town, situated in the south of the zone controlled by M23, Runiga's soldiers started fighting those backing Makenga. Major population movements were reported as civilians fled, heading for Bunagana, or pouring in their hundreds into Uganda.
The Addis Ababa accord aims to encourage the reform of weak institutions in the vast DR Congo and calls for countries in the region to stop interfering in each other's affairs. The United Nations has accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing M23, which both nations strongly deny.
At the UN headquarters in New York on Sunday, Security Council members renewed a previous condemnation of the rebels and "reiterate their demand that the M23 cease immediately attempts to establish an illegitimate parallel administration," said a statement released by the council.
M23 leaders say that the aim of their insurgency, which began last year, is to force Kinshasa fully to implement the terms of a peace deal reached in 2009.