Congo soldier shot dead in Rwanda, anger flares as body returned
Rwandan police shot dead a Congolese soldier who crossed the border and fired at border security on Friday, according to Rwanda’s army, in an area where Congo’s army is fighting rebels whom Rwanda accuses of supporting.
The M23 rebels, whose leadership originates from the same Tutsi ethnic group as Rwanda President Paul Kagame, have gained strength in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the Central African neighbors.
Rwanda denies supporting the organization and has dispatched soldiers into eastern Congo, according to Congo.
On Friday, when the battle resumed between the M23 and the Congolese army, a Congolese military plane went down in the countryside, an army source and M23 spokesperson Willy Ngoma told Reuters, without offering additional information.
Earlier on Friday, a Congolese soldier entered Rwanda from the Congolese city of Goma and shot an AK-47 weapon at Rwandan security forces and civilians, according to the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).
According to an RDF statement, two Rwandan police officers were wounded before an officer on duty shot back at the soldier, who was killed 25 meters inside Rwanda.
The Congolese government stated it was monitoring the situation but did not elaborate.
In Goma, approximately 50 kilometers (35 miles) southwest of the main battle, hundreds of people on foot and on motorcycles accompanied the ambulance carrying the soldier’s corpse, yelling “hero, hero,” according to social media footage.
Some chanted anti-Tutsi slurs and referred to Kagame as an “assassin.”
The anti-Rwandan feeling is strong in Congo, owing to Rwanda’s two invasions of eastern Congo in the 1990s and its continued influence in the area. Rwanda claims to have targeted ethnic Hutu militants responsible for the 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The M23 is undertaking its longest attack since conquering large swaths of territory in eastern Congo in 2012-2013.
The gang took Bunagana, near the Ugandan border, on Monday and made additional inroads on Friday, seizing Tshengerero to the east, according to a statement. Tshengerero’s abduction was verified by the chairman of a local civil society organization and Congolese police.
The M23 claims to be defending itself against a combination of the Congolese government and a Hutu militia led by leaders of the 1994 massacre. Congo denies any involvement with the group. more info
Congo’s government issued a statement urging British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to put pressure on Rwanda to remove its soldiers from Congo ahead of the Commonwealth conference, which Kigali will host next week.
It also praised a Kenyan plan to send a unified East African military force to eastern Congo but said that Rwanda would not be included.