4 December 2012

Rwanda: Government Issues FDLR Warning

Photo: New Times
Ammunition seized from rebels.

The government yesterday warned the Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) that their attacks on Rwanda are intolerable.

Speaking at a news briefing in Kigali, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Government Spokesperson, Louise Mushikiwabo, said Rwanda would respond accordingly if the militia attacks continue.

FDLR is mainly composed of people blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The group has for the last 18 years operated in the eastern DRC, where they are accused of rapes, pillage and killings.

Mushikiwabo's remarks follow recent attacks on Rwanda that claimed at least two civilians and injured others.

The latest attack was on Sunday morning when the militants killed a park warden attached to the Volcano National Park in northern Rwanda.

"We are watching the situation very closely. We do not want to be provoked into entering DR Congo going after these genocide militias. If these attacks continue that is when we will start feeling that it is a security problem," Mushikiwabo told journalists.

She noted that so far the attacks have not constituted a serious security concern.

"We don't really think that whatever their numbers are, the FDLR, who are not very far from our border, would constitute a serious security problem for us, but if it becomes persistent, we will have to stop it, whether in intensity or numbers."

The government is monitoring the situation at the border with DRC, the minister said, adding that Rwanda has exercised self restraint to avoid being sucked into the ongoing Congo conflict.

"We will make sure that our citizens are protected in these areas near the combat zones. We will make sure that we don't respond to skirmishes in a way that would be counterproductive for us but be rest assured that if anything that comes from FDLR becomes persistent or serious, we will respond very seriously," the minister said.

Meanwhile, while addressing residents of Rubavu district living along the DRC border, the Chief of Defence Staff Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga echoed similar sentiments, saying Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) was well prepared to crash FDLR militias.

"We shall capture or shoot them if they attempt to destabilise the country again," Kayonga warned.

He urged residents to always alert security organs whenever they see suspicious elements, and warned them against crossing the border at night.

Rubavu mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame asked local leaders to conduct consultative meetings at the village level to urge residents to remain vigilant.

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