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DRC Accuses Rebel M23 of Shelling Rwanda

Congolese government army soldiers ride on their truck as they patrol Kibati village outside the eastern Congolese city of Goma, DRC, July 22, 2013.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has denied that its armed forces, known as F.A.R.D.C, have been launching cross-border attacks into Rwanda.

Rwanda said Thursday that more than 30 bombs and rockets have been fired across the border in the last week by the DRC military.

But DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende told VOA it is the M23 rebels who have been shelling Rwandan territory in an attempt to draw Rwanda into the conflict in eastern Congo in support of the M23.

“I can say that at this moment since the fighting began not even a single the FARDC fire at Rwanda. We know that there are shellings from the Congo territory that are exploding in the Rwandan territory. But we know that this shelling is the fact of M23 rebels who are trying to bring Rwanda in the conflict officially because we know Rwanda is helping them, but it is not doing so openly,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, Rwanda’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Olivier Nduhungierehe accused Congo of trying to draw Rwanda into the conflict between the DRC army and M23 rebels in the city of goma, which sits on the Congolese-Rwandan border.

Nduhungierehe said the Congolese army crossed a red line by shelling Rwanda territory and that Rwanda reserves the right to defend itself.

“The persisting shelling on Rwandan territory is unacceptable as it would be to any sovereign nation. We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory,” Nduhungierehe said.

Mende said the DRC army, already occupied with fighting the M23, has no reason to attack Rwanda.

“If they are saying it may be that they are in complicity with the M23 to implicate themselves in the conflict for reasons, I don’t know, economic. All what we want is that our neighbor be far away from this conflict because we have lost a lot of people due to their implication in the conflict in Congo,” Mende said.
Butty interview with Mende
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Mende accused M23 rebels of initiating the latest fighting prompting the Congolese army to retaliate.

“It is M23 who attack the positions of F.A.R.D.C. and the F.A.R.D.C. had to absolutely defend itself. F.A.R.D.C. retaliated and pushed them away and then they started shelling on Goma, shelling from Kibati and we have some shelling from Rwanda. That is why MONUSCO came in to repulse the M23 so that the civilian population in Goma is protected because it is the mandate of MONUSCO to protect civilian population,” Mende said