BENI, Congo – Congo's army fought off attacks in and around the eastern city of Beni on Thursday, killing at least 13 assailants and capturing 15, a local human rights group said.
Three soldiers also were killed in the fighting and more than seven other people were wounded, including students taking exams, said Omar Kavota, executive director of the Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights.
Kavota blamed a new rebel coalition for the bombing of a school and attempted attacks on a women's prison, a police station and the town hall.
Beni Mayor Nyonyi Bwanakawa blamed the attack on Mai Mai rebels. Kavota, however, warned that a new rebel coalition has formed outside Beni after armed men on June 11 attacked the city's central Kangbayi prison, killing at least 11 and freeing 900 prisoners.
The new coalition, which Kavota called the National Revolutionaries Movement, is likely composed of rebels from the Mai Mai, Allied Democratic Forces, former M23 members and others who escaped prison.
Kavota said the new coalition may have external political and military support, given the logistics of the attacks, and he called on the government and military to quickly dismantle the group.
Kavota, whose organization tracks civilian deaths in the region, also called on the military to increase protection of civilians and public places.
Eastern Congo is home to multiple armed groups that compete for control of the region's vast mineral resources.
Mwanamilongo reported from Kinshasa, Congo.