11 June 2014

Rwanda Warns DRC Against Provocation

Photo: Radio Okapi
Congolese army accused of attacking Rwanda Defence Force (file photo).

Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo has warned DR Congo to refrain from unnecessary provocation following an attack by the Congolese army.

Yesterday morning at around 7am, some elements of the DR Congo army (FARDC) launched an attack in Busasamana Sector, Rubavu District, confronting the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).

The DR Congo soldiers opened fire on an RDF patrol truck, forcing the Rwandan soldiers to retaliate and the resulting exchange of fire killed one FARDC soldier identified as Hategekimana Boysiro.

"These actions by the DR Congo are jeopardising the region's extensive efforts to ensure peace, stability and development for all our citizens," Mushikiwabo said.

"We urge the leadership of DR Congo to embrace the logic of peace and end all attacks on the Rwandan territory. Rwanda stands ready to act to protect its citizens."

The morning firefight lasted for 30 minutes but resumed later in the afternoon when two FARDC platoons attempted to deploy on Rwandan territory, leaving four FARDC soldiers dead.

The New Times journalist at the scene saw the bodies of Congolese soldiers who were shot as they attempted to occupy the Rwandan territory.

Last evening, Mushikiwabo tweeted that "Rwanda has put up for several months with behaviour from DR Congo unbecoming of leadership desirous of peace. I made that point to DR Congo counterpart."

Following the attacks, RDF immediately called on members of the Extended Joint Verification Mechanism for an independent assessment.

Their access was denied by DR Congo authorities.

This paper understands there was heavy deployment of RDF in Rubavu following the attacks that left one civilian injured.

Last year, about 40 bombs and rockets were fired into Rwanda, particularly, in August 2013, when a bomb launched from DR Congo territory landed in a marketplace in Bugangari killing Vestine Mukagasana and seriously injuring her two months old son.

Rwanda, then, did not retaliate but instead condemned the attacks that came from the joint operations FARDC and the FDLR, a Congo-based militia group widely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

However, in the past three months, the DR Congo has unilaterally closed its border with Rwanda, imposed visa fees despite regional and bilateral agreements and failed to honor their commitment to neutralise FDLR militia operating in the DR Congo for the last 20 years.

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