Regional authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) accused Monday the Rwandan army of invading and occupying Bunagana, a key strategic town bordering Uganda, amid a diplomatic tug of war between the two Central African countries, provoked and fuelled by the recent offensives of the March 23 Movement (M23).
According to a statement by General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for the military governor of DRC’s northeastern North Kivu province, where heavy fighting between the army and M23 rebels had intensified since April, the provincial government accused the Rwandan army of “violating our frontier intangibility and territorial integrity by occupying Bunagana on Monday at around 7 a.m”.
There was no immediate comment from Rwanda on the latest accusations. Yet the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) said Tuesday in a statement that the defense and security of the Rwandan population, as well as Rwanda’s territorial integrity, was assured.
Tensions between the two countries intensified last month after DRC accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels in renewed fighting in the country’s northeastern North Kivu province.
Rwanda has denied the charge and instead accused the Congolese army of allying with Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), active in eastern DRC, whose elements were blamed for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Tuesday’s army reassurance came on the back of counter accusations of shelling rockets into the shared border.
Last Friday, Rwanda accused the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) of firing rockets into Rwanda. DRC also said a rocket fired from Rwanda had killed two children.
The provincial statement comes hours after the M23 claimed to have occupied Bunagana, a key transit point for goods on the Ugandan border, which had fallen in the hands of the rebels in 2013.