KINSHASA – Soldiers from Democratic Republic of Congo exchanged fire on Wednesday with Rwandan troops who crossed the countries’ border and seized a Congolese soldier, Congolese Government has said.
General Carlos Alberto-dos-Santos-Cruz, Commander of United Nations Peacekeepers in Congo, confirmed the clash and said the UN would investigate it.
The Congolese Government said Rwandan forces crossed the frontier and seized a Congolese soldier thereby leading to clashes.
Lambert Mende, Spokesman for Congolese Government, said that “elements from the Rwandan army crossed the border not far from Kibumba around 03:30 this morning and took a Congolese corporal, which provoked a reaction from our soldiers there who opened fire.”
He said the gunfire eased off after the exchanges in the early hours, but resumed again later in the day.
Julien Paluku, Governor for the North Kivu Province, said the Rwandan army attacked their positions at the border with heavy artillery and we responded.
“They are advancing on our positions; naturally we have responded, but we don’t want it to escalate into a conflict between the two countries,” he said.
A report said it was not immediately clear whether Rwandan troops were on Congolese territory because the Rwandan Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
It said renewed tensions between the two neighbours might undermine international efforts to bring stability to Congo’s mineral-rich, lawless east and the wider region after years of conflict.
The two countries have fought two wars in two decades in eastern Congo.
Violence has often been prompted by Rwandan interventions in Congolese territory, which it said were required to hunt down Hutu militia that fled Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. (Reuters/NAN)