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Rwanda warns its enemies after bombs from Congo land on villages

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A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the more than 30,000 who crossed into western Uganda at Busunga on July 13. Rwanda warned its enemies after bombs from Congo landed on its villages. Picture/AFP

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the more than 30,000 who crossed into western Uganda at Busunga on July 13. Rwanda warned its enemies after bombs from Congo landed on its villages. Picture/AFP 

By EDMUND KAGIRE AND GAAKI KIGAMBO The EastAfrican

Posted  Saturday, July 20   2013 at  13:59

In Summary

  • The warning followed the shelling of two Rwandan villages, allegedly from positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
  • Intelligence sources say it was a deliberate attack by Congolese forces, FARDC, with the help of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), based in eastern DRC.
  • However, the UN force has denied being party to the fighting between FARDC and the M23 rebels, during which two bombs landed on Rwandan territory.

Rwanda will not hesitate to respond to aggression from its vast neighbour to the west if Congolese troops continue to engage in “provocative acts” targeting its territory.

The warning followed the shelling of two Rwandan villages, allegedly from positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Intelligence sources say it was a deliberate attack by Congolese forces, FARDC, with the help of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), based in eastern DRC.

However, the UN force has denied being party to the fighting between FARDC and the M23 rebels, during which two bombs landed on Rwandan territory.

On Thursday, Rwanda’s Military and Defence Spokesperson, Brig-Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, while conducting a guided tour for military attaches from the US, Germany, France, Belgium and Tanzania in the two villages in Rubavu District that were hit by mortar bombs on Monday, categorically stated: “Rwanda will not tolerate any more attacks on its territory.”

Gen Nzabamwita added: “Rwanda is handling this issue diplomatically but we clearly say that if these deliberate acts of provocation continue the Rwandan Defence Forces, which are mandated to protect the country’s sovereignty, will have no option but to act.”

Increasingly worried

Rwanda is said to be getting increasingly worried that the Congolese army is directly working with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), remnants of the 1994 genocidal forces who are based in eastern DRC.

Observers say the involvement of FDLR in the ongoing fighting would directly suck in Rwanda if the rebels, who have been fighting the Kigali government since 1994, use the opportunity to launch attacks on the country.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Rwanda addressed its concerns over the FDLR to the secretary-general even though both Monusco and the DRC government deny any knowledge of such a relationship.

But, according to Gen Nzabamwita, there was sufficient intelligence to prove Rwanda’s concerns and evidence that Monusco was abetting the FARDC-FDLR friendship.

Sources say recent events following the resumption of fighting have thrown Monusco into panic after the UN force’s relationship with FARDC came into question, with reports of torture and human rights abuses by the Congolese army also emerging.

Shocking details of torture on suspected M23 rebels and sympathisers and desecration of rebels’ bodies drew condemnation, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing his concern over the growing cases of human rights abuses by FARDC.

A Rwandan intelligence source claimed that a call from Mr Ban saw Monusco quickly attempt to sever ties with the government forces, even as photographs of their officers in consultation with their Congolese army counterparts surfaced.

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