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Leader of Congolese armed group assassinated

The main military commander of the FPLC armed group, Col. Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, was assassinated two days ago, according to diplomatic and military sources in the region. The FPLC was created in early 2010 by former members of the CNDP after Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s arrest. Nsengiyumva himself was Nkunda’s first cousin and had been one of his staff officers since the RCD.

The circumstances of his murder are still unclear, although it appears that his own bodyguards killed him. There has also been speculation among Congolese intelligence officers of involvement by the Rwandan army or Gen. Bosco Ntaganda. The FPLC has increasingly attracted defectors from the Rwandan Defense Forces, as well as Nkunda loyalists angry with their former leader’s arrest. The FPLC is a nexus of anti-Kigali groups, with ties to the FDLR and local Mai-Mai groups; Rwandan intelligence officers have also accused Rwandan dissident Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa of being in touch with the FPLC, although this is not confirmed.

According to a UN official familiar with the situation, another possibility is that Nsengiyumva was killed due to disagreements over a ransom some believe the oil company Soco International paid to the FPLC after one of its workers was abducted in the Virunga national park two weeks ago.

Despite being a magnet for anti-Rwandan crusaders, the FPLC is not a formidable fighting force. They have an estimated 200-500 soldiers under their direct command. Their operations are largely confined to Rutshuru territory, around the border with Uganda and the Virunga national park. Their erstwhile leader “Gen.” Gad Ngabo was arrested in Uganda last year after pressure by the Rwandan and Congolese governments. There have been some reports over the past weeks that Gad might have been released.

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