DR Congo accuses Rwandan forces of “incursion”; Rwanda official denies

Congolese Defense Forces soldiers and United Nation forces patrol the area of an attack near the town of Oicha, 30 kms (20 miles) from Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday July 23, 2021. Congo's military says at least 16 people were killed and eight injured after an attack by suspected Allied Democratic Forces rebels in Congo’s North Kivu province. Others remain missing after the ambush that took place Thursday on a road between the towns of Chanichani and Mayi-Moya, around 30miles north of Beni. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)
Congolese Defense Forces soldiers and United Nation forces patrol Beni, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, July 23, 2021. The government accuses Rwandan troop of incursions in the area. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) accused the Rwandan forces of “incursion” into six villages in northeastern DRC on Monday morning, a spokesman of DRC’s armed forces (FARDC) said.

“There has been an incursion since Monday morning of the Rwandan forces in Kibumba”, in DRC’s northeastern border province of North Kivu, said North Kivu army spokesman Guillaume Njike.

Exchanges of fire took place between the FARDC and elements of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), according to the spokesman.

“The Rwandan military occupied six villages this morning on the Congolese territory before being forced to turn back, thanks to the arrival of reinforcements from our soldiers on the spot,” Njike added.

The DRC will officially seize the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), a system set up in 2021 by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to monitor regional security incidents.

“It is in front of this structure (EJVM) that the Rwandan army will be able to present the reason for its presence this Monday in the DRC,” said Njike.

The Rwandan army has not yet officially made a response to the cause of this incident.

However, Vincent Karega, Rwandan ambassador to the DRC affirmed to the DRC’s mainstream press, the Actualite.CD, denying that the RDF had made any “incursion”.

“The (Rwandan) security forces were pursuing fraudsters who chose to run to the DRC. One of the Rwandan law enforcement officers crossed a few meters while pursuing these fraudsters who had unknown packages. This is purely a matter related to fraud issue,” Karega said.

“On the other side, the Congolese forces arrested him for having exceeded the border line by a few meters. Those who know the place know that it is very difficult to identify the border with the naked eyes,” said Karega, cited by Actualite.CD.

Clashes between the armed forces of DRC and Rwanda have been reported since Monday morning, as local residents started returning home after fleeing in “different directions” due to the tension, according to local sources.

There have been border skirmishes between DR Congo and Rwanda over the years.

In 2018, the Rwandan army said three DRC soldiers were killed in a fire exchange when the latter attacked an army position in the northern Rwandan district of Musanze.

In 2014, Rwanda accused the FARDC of firing a rocket on its territory in Bugeshi Sector, Rubavu district, Western Province. The rocket did not cause any casualties.

In 2013, Rwanda said FARDC fired over 60 projectiles on Rwandan territory, killing and injuring civilians, including women and children.