DRC soldier killed on Rwandan border as tensions escalate

A DRC soldier was killed and two Rwandan police were injured in a shootout on their country's tense border on Friday that also injured civilians, security sources said.

KINSHASA – A DRC soldier was killed and two Rwandan police were injured in a shootout on their country’s tense border on Friday that also injured civilians, security sources said.

The incident happened at a border post in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma, heightening tensions between two countries with decades of strained relations.

“A Congolese soldier charged and opened fire towards the Rwandan border,” a Congolese policeman who was present said.

“A Rwandan soldier opened fire and died instantly. There was then an exchange of fire between us and the Rwandan security forces.

“Some of the civilians waiting to cross the border were injured.”

The Rwandan army confirmed the incident in North Kivu province, saying on Twitter that an “unidentified Congolese soldier fired at passers-by crossing the border”.

“He injured two (Rwandan) policemen (…) (and) was shot in return,” he added.

The Congolese soldier, who was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, was shot 25 meters (27 yards) inside Rwandan territory, the army said earlier.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta said he considered the events “just an incident” and that an investigation would be carried out after talks with his Congolese counterpart.

“We must act together to de-escalate the whole situation,” he told France24, saying the violence occurred amid “hate speech” against Rwandans and Congolese Tutsis.

Observers from a multinational organization called the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) spoke briefly with Congolese and Rwandan officials at the border.

Congolese police detained around 100 demonstrators who were trying to get to the border post and chanting slogans against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

According to an AFP correspondent, the body of the Congolese soldier was transferred to DR Congo at the beginning of the afternoon. A cheering crowd took him, with some chants, that he was a “hero”.

The Goma mayor’s police colonel, Francois Kabeya, said the shooting was “an incident like so many others that often occur at the border”. The (Congolese) soldier killed was visibly drunk”.

In neighboring South Kivu province, the governor announced the closure of local border crossings into Rwanda from 3 p.m. after several hundred people took part in an anti-Rwanda march.

Relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda have long been strained.

A key moment came in 1994, when Rwandan Hutus, accused of massacring Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide, poured into the DRC. They set up camps on the border and paved the way for post-genocide conflicts with Rwandan leaders.

Tensions around a rebel movement known as M23 have erupted again in recent weeks.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting, funding and arming the group, a charge the government in Kigali has repeatedly denied.

The two countries have accused each other of carrying out cross-border bombings.

  • Editor/ additional report by AFP
RosGwen24 News
RosGwen24 News
Articles: 2765

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *