Democratic Republic of the CongoRwanda

Rwandan Government Says DR Congo Fighter Jet Violated Its Airspace For Third Time

The Rwandan government on Tuesday said that a fighter jet from the Democratic Republic of Congo violated its airspace, prompting the defense forces to fire back, reported Reuters.

The incident is the latest dispute between the two countries whose relationship has been strained by a rebel insurgency. The DRC continues to accuse Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group, which has captured swaths of DRC’s territory in recent months.

“A Sukhoi-25 from DRC violated Rwanda airspace for the third time,” over Rubavu district, near Goma, Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said in a statement on Tuesday.

She said that necessary defensive measures were taken. She also added that Rwanda has asked the DRC to stop the aggression. There have been two previous airspace violation cases reported in November and December last year.

According to witnesses, a loud explosion was heard in the eastern DRC city of Goma, which was followed by two shots as the DRC aircraft flew over on Tuesday afternoon. Video shared on social networks showed a flash close to the fighter, which landed at Goma airport.

Kinshasa has, however, denied one of its aircraft had flown over Rwanda and slammed Kigali for an attack on the jet that it said amounted to an act of war.

Congo, United Nations experts and Western powers have accused the Rwandan government of backing the M23 in eastern Congo, which seized several towns and villages in renewed fighting last year. Rwanda has denied any involvement.

In turn, it accuses Kinshasa of colluding with the FDLR — a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group based in the DRC.

In November last year, regional leaders brokered an agreement under which the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group was meant to withdraw from recently seized positions by Jan. 15 as part of efforts to end the fighting that has displaced at least 450,000 people.

But last week, the Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said that the rebels had not fully withdrawn from those areas.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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