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Rwanda, Congo trade blame after army border fight

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have accused each other of territorial violation following heavy fighting between their two armies on Tuesday.

The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Thursday accused Congolese soldiers of having “encroached” on Rwandan territory hours after the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) said the fighting had occured “on Congolese soil”.

During the cross-border skirmish, several soldiers were killed and scores wounded. The fighting stopped after the intervention of the two governments.

The two neighbours share a poorly demarcated border in the north which has been a source of skirmishes over the last two decades.

Congolese army general Maj Guillaume Ndjike-Kaiko claimed Rwandan soldiers crossed the border some 200 metres inside Congo and shot at a border patrol unit of the DRC forces.

“There were deaths and injuries during the exchange of fire, which took place several hours before the two countries declared a ceasefire,” Maj Ndjike told The EastAfrican.

Rwanda however claims the Congolese soldiers crossed into their territory and attacked its border patrol unit.

“At first we thought it was FDLR but later going by the force with which they were using, we noticed they were government forces,” said RDF commander Brigadier Gen Eugene Nkubito.

Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is a Hutu militia whose members are accused of taking part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and has been based in eastern DRC since.

Evidence

According to the United Nations-owned Radio Okapi, relative calm had returned in the area after the clashes in Isoke in the vast Volcano Mountains that straddle across DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.

The radio station further reported that DRC claims to have evidence confirming that the Rwandan army has set up bases inside Congo.

“The FARDC said that the satellite data taken more than a week ago, shows three camps of Rwandan soldiers in the Virunga Park.

They are located 400, 200 and 150 metres from the border between the two countries, on Congolese soil,” the UN radio reported.

Both Rwanda and DRC say they have requested the Extended Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), a security organisation of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), to investigate the incident.

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