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East Africa Bloc Announces Peace Dialogue for DRC

Internally displaced people queue to receive medical attention at a health centre in Kanyaruchinya on November 11, 2022 after taking refuge there while fleeing conflict between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and M23 in the territory of Rutsuru, DRC.

East African leaders on Sunday announced peace talks in a bid to stabilize eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where M23 rebels clashed with troops just north of the key city of Goma over the weekend.

The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) stated that it would hold a "peace dialogue" on eastern DRC on November 21, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The EAC did not specify who would take part in the talks nor how long they were scheduled to last. The peace bid runs parallel to regional military efforts to stabilize eastern DRC.

The announcement came as Congolese troops clashed anew with the M23 north of volatile region's main city Goma, officials said.

Army sources said the military was engaging the M23 in Mwaro, a village about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the important commercial hub of one million people.

"We woke up to fighting this morning," one army official told AFP.

M23 rebels have recently surged across the DRC's North Kivu province, winning a string of victories against the army and capturing swathes of territory.

On Saturday, the group accused the Congolese army of retaliating with "barbarian bombings" - killing 15 civilians, including two children.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll.

The latest violence comes one day after Kenyan troops deployed to eastern DRC, as part of a peacekeeping operation from the EAC bloc.

In April, EAC leaders agreed to establish a joint force to help restore security in the mineral-rich central African nation.

Kenyan troops began to arrive in Goma over the weekend as part of that force, after the country's parliament approved a deployment of just over 900 troops, for an initial period of six months.

The force will be under Kenyan command; however, its total size and scope remains unclear.