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Rwanda military kill Congolese ‘soldier’ along border with DRC

Rwanda’s military said it shot dead a Congolese “soldier” and arrested two others after they crossed the border early Tuesday, as tensions simmer over violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east.

The three “soldiers” entered Rwanda’s Rubavu district, which borders the main eastern DRC city of Goma, around 1:10 am (2310 GMT) on Tuesday, the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) said in a statement.

“The FARDC soldiers had in their possession one AK-47 gun, four magazines with 105 rounds, one protective vest and cannabis sachets,” the RDF said.

“The third soldier was shot dead when he fired at the patrols. No-one on the Rwandan side was injured.”

Eastern DRC has been plagued by decades of violence by rebel groups, including the Tutsi-led M23, which has seized swathes of land since launching an offensive in late 2021.

The government of the DRC and several Western nations including the United States and France, say the M23 is backed by Rwanda, though Kigali denies this claim.

The fighting has pitted the M23 rebels against the Congolese army and armed militias known locally as “wazalendo”.

A Congolese security source told AFP on condition of anonymity: “The information is true but we do not know if they are wazalendo or FARDC.”

The East African Community bloc deployed troops in the eastern DRC in November 2022, at the invitation of the country’s authorities, to free areas taken by M23.

But Kinshasa refused to extend its mandate, leading to a phased withdrawal in December after President Felix Tshisekedi and local residents accused the multinational force of cohabiting with the rebels rather than forcing them to lay down arms.

The DRC has also called for the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers by the end of this year, with the UN Security Council voting in December to accede to Kinshasa’s demand.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said the pull-out of the MONUSCO mission, which arrived in 1999, “has commenced”.

Kinshasa considers the UN force to be ineffective in protecting civilians from the armed groups and militias that have plagued the eastern DRC for three decades.

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