Democratic Republic of the Congo
DRC Government Closes Border With Rwanda After Soldier Shot Dead During Attack
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday closed its borders with Rwanda after a Congolese soldier was shot dead while attacking border guards inside Rwandan territory, reported The East African.
The border closure comes amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two neighbors that began after DRC accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels who launched a major offensive in eastern Congo last month.
Rwanda denies Congo’s allegations that it supports the M23 rebels, whose leadership hails from the Tutsi ethnic group, or that it has sent troops into eastern Congo.
According to a statement from the office of South Kivu’s governor, the DRC government ordered the border with Rwanda closed on Friday as of 3 pm local time.
A statement from Rwanda’s army said the Congolese soldier, armed with an AK-47, was shot dead 25 meters into Rwanda on Friday morning after he opened fire on security personnel and civilians injuring two police officers.
It added that a Rwandan policeman shot back in self-defense killing the soldier.
The statement also claimed that two Rwandan police officers were injured when the Congolese soldier crossed the border and opened fire.
Congo’s government said it was investigating the incident.
The M23 is a Congolese Tutsi militia that is one of the scores of armed groups in eastern DRC. It got global prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma, an important commercial hub of Congo. A joint offensive by the Congolese army and UN troops, however, forced the rebel group to withdraw from the town.
After lying dormant for years, the rebels became active again last November after accusing the government of failing to honor a 2009 agreement under which the army was to incorporate its fighters.
Clashes intensified in March, causing thousands of people to flee. On Monday, M23 fighters captured the strategic town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border.