A top Rwandan rebel leader who has been fighting in neighboring eastern Congo has surrendered amid a UN-backed military offensive in the violence-wracked region, a Congolese military official said Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Idrissa Muradadi and three of his bodyguards turned themselves over on 10 March, said Col. Sylvain Ekenge. He said Muradadi is now in the hands of the UN mission in Congo and awaiting extradition to Rwanda.
Muradadi was a leader in the 2nd battalion of the Rwandan Hutu militia known by its French acronym FDLR. The Congolese government has unsuccessfully attempted to eradicate the group, which crossed into Congo after Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
Ekenge said Muradadi surrendered because of military pressure.
"I can confirm that the head FDLR in the territory of Kabare, Lt. Col. Idrissa Muradadi, commander of the FDLR's 2nd battalion went with three of his bodyguards and he is currently in the hands of MONUSCO for his extradition to his country, Rwanda," Ekenge said.
The military, backed by the UN peacekeeping mission in the region, launched an offensive on 15 February to hunt down FDLR fighters after a series of attacks by the rebel group, Ekenge said.
More than two dozen civilians have been killed by the Rwandan Hutu fighters since New Year's. The latest attack by the FDLR in South Kivu on 25 February killed 4 civilians and left three others injured, Ekenge said.
"We will continue this offensive until all of the rebels go home," he said.
In the same region, 15 other rebels and 74 of their dependents have also turned themselves over to the military, Ekenge said.