Rwanda’ will not sit “idly by”, its foreign minister has said, if it suffers further attacks from neighboring DRC.
Vincent Biruta’s talk of retaliation is the latest example of escalating tensions between the two countries.
In May Rwanda accused Congo of firing shells across the border.
Over the weekend Congo summoned Rwanda’s ambassador and suspended RwandAir flights to Congo.
Support for M23
That was in response to what it said was Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels who have been carrying out an offensive in Congo’s eastern borderlands – clashes that the U.N. says displaced more than 72,000 people in a single week.
Rwanda denies the claims and has in turn accused Congo’s army of fighting alongside the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
The FDLR is an armed group founded by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Biruta said Rwanda has the “right” and the “means” to respond to protect the security of its citizens.
He said FDLR fighters were in the ranks of Congo’s army when their shells allegedly destroyed houses and injured people on the Rwandan side of the border.
Congo government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said Rwanda’s discourse on the FDLR “no longer makes sense”.
“The FDLR are killing our people, not the Rwandan people” he said.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who is chair of the African Union, said on Sunday that he was “seriously concerned” by the rising tension between the two countries and called for dialog to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
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