27 November 2012

Rwanda: FDLR Attack 'Won't Draw Rwanda Into DRC Crisis'

Photo: Radio Okapi
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels (file photo).

Government has said it will not be drawn into conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, even after heavily armed militiamen attacked villages in the Western Province and left at least one civilian dead.

The attack, according to Rwanda Defence Forces, was mounted early yesterday by at least two heavily armed companies of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Two companies are equivalent to about 120 troops.

After subsequent fire exchange, six rebels were killed and two captured, according to the Defence and Military Spokesperson Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita.

"This morning's attack by the FDLR forces from their bases in DRC is clearly an attempt to take advantage of the volatile situation in eastern DRC," reads a statement released yesterday by Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson.

"We will counter any violation of Rwandan territory by the FDLR and continue to protect our borders but will not allow today's fighting to derail the ongoing regional peace process.

According to Nzabamwita, the attacks took place in the sectors of Bugeshi and Cyanzarwe in Rubavu district and the attackers were later repulsed and ran back to DRC.

"We appreciate the cooperation from local residents and pass on our heartfelt condolences to the families of those that were killed because of this provocative attack by the militia," said Nzabamwita in a phone interview.

He said that three civilians were also injured in the attack and were being treated from Bugeshi Health Centre.

Elements making up FDLR have been in the DRC for the past 17 years with some of them accused of having participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

It is widely alleged by different sources that the militiamen could have received the ammunition from the DRC Armed Forces.

Others say the attacks may be aimed at trying to suck Rwanda into the crisis in the eastern DRC, in a way of provoking the country to pursue them on the Congolese territory.

"These attacks will not draw us into war with DRC, we remain committed to continue supporting the peace process designed by the ICGLR," said Nzabamwita.

The crisis in the DRC, which culminated into the capture of the strategic North Kivu provincial capital Goma, is mainly hinged on a mutiny by a group for former government soldiers which was triggered by a number of grievances.

The mutineers, calling themselves M23, were on the verge of capturing Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, and later march on to Kinshasa before government at the weekend said it was ready to listen to their grievances.

When the mutiny began in April this year, Rwanda suspended a joint offensive against the FDLR-which was being conducted with the DRC army under the supervision of the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), following the widely contested allegations that Rwanda was supporting the mutineers, allegations that Kigali denies.

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