DRC bombs land in Rwanda, as Kigali sounds alarm over MONUSCO
The government of Rwanda has protested what it called “deliberate bombing” of its territory after two shells landed in a rural area as fighting rages on for a second day around Goma, in eastern DR Congo.
The defense ministry said in a statement that bombs came from “DRC area controlled by Congo’s army FARDC and the UN mission MONUSCO”.
“Two bombs landed at Kageshi and Gasiza Cells, Busasamana Sector, Rubavu District, Western Rwanda at 15h05. This was a provocative and deliberate act by FARDC and MONUSCO since there was no fighting nearby between the warring factions,” said Military spokesperson Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita.
Fighting between FARDC and M23 rebels started on Sunday, 14 July 2013, which had by Monday evening led to more than 700 refugees fleeing into Rwanda. It is difficult to know which side began the latest fighting, but the refugees coming from the warzone reported that firing started from the area controlled by Congo’s army.
The fighting has been concentrated in the Mutaho region – located some 15km north of Goma, the regional capital of North Kivu Province. According to Rwanda’s army, there is “credible information that FDLR is currently embedded in FARDC,” in reference to Rwanda rebels, whose rank-and-file are accused of executing the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Meanwhile, on Monday, a letter surfaced at the UN headquarters in New York in which Rwanda’s envoy accuses the new MONUSCO Intervention Brigade of holding secret meetings with FDLR. Kigali suspects the meetings are meant to destabilize Rwanda.
The 3,000 strong brigade includes troops from Tanzania and South Africa, soon to be joined by Malawi. In the past weeks, Rwanda and Tanzania have been embroiled in a bitter exchange of words after President Jakaya Kikwete called for talked between Kigali and the FDLR rebels.
Analysts say by establishing contacts with the FDLR, Tanzania could be trying to reinforce the strength of the militia group with plan of being able to force Kigali to the negotiating table.
“We have reliable information that indicates several instances of FDLR units or commanders being integrated in FARDC commando units near the border with Rwanda,” the Rwandan envoy said. “In some instances, certain Force Intervention Brigade commanders are aware and supportive of such instances.”
The diplomat added: “there are increased patterns of large quantities of weapons and ammunition being delivered to FDLR by FARDC officers, which have taken place with the knowledge and support of (MONUSCO) Force Intervention Brigade commanders.”
“The above-mentioned activities and patterns are developments that my government takes seriously, as they constitute a serious threat to the security of my country but also put into question the credibility of MONUSCO and its peacekeeping operations,” said Gasana.
Kigali’s diplomat added that “any hidden agenda driven by political and/or economic interests” would undermine the push for peace in the region.
The UN Security Council which received the letter has not commented yet.
As for the shells which landed in the Rwanda border community today, the ministry of defense said there were no casualties. Brig Gen Nzabamwita urged the population to remain calm as the authorities engage the DRC Government and MONUSCO to ask them to desist from any provocative acts on Rwandan soil.