Rwanda accuses Congo of shelling its territory, killing one

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 29, 2013 12:37 PM
Rwanda accuses Congo of shelling its territory, killing one

By Jenny Clover

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda accused the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday of shelling Rwandan territory and killing a woman, saying such "provocation" could no longer be tolerated.

The comments by Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo contained some of the strongest language used so far by Rwanda, which has repeatedly sent its military into Congo's east during years of violence in the mineral-rich region.

"The persistent shelling of Rwandan territory is unacceptable," Mushikiwabo said in a statement.

"We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated."

"We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory. Rwanda has a responsibility to protect its population," she said, without saying what action might be taken.

Rwanda accused the Congolese army of firing a shell that killed a woman and seriously injured her two-month-old baby in a market in Rubavu town on Thursday morning, followed by a second shortly after that wounded another person.

Residents and a Rwandan official had earlier said two people died in Thursday's shelling.

The Foreign Ministry said the Congolese had fired 34 rounds into Rwanda in the past month.

Last week, a 3,000-strong United Nations intervention brigade with a mandate to neutralize armed groups launched an operation in eastern Congo against a rebel group widely believed to be backed by Rwanda.

Rwanda denies backing the so-called M23 rebellion but fears are growing the violence in Congo could spill across borders.

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A diplomat in the Great Lakes region told Reuters it was clear rebels had received support from Rwanda to help counter the U.N. force's aerial and ground assault over the past week.

The Rwandan minister said Kigali had repeatedly called on Congo to halt the attacks but that they had increased. She accused the international community of failing to do enough to control the situation in eastern Congo.

(Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Nairobi; Writing by Edmund Blair in Nairobi; Editing by Andrew Roche)