Rwanda accuses DR Congo of violating airspace

Rwanda has accused neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo of “provocation” after a military plane crossed into its territory on Monday morning.

A statement from the Rwanda government said the jet “briefly touched down” at the western Rubavu airport before it returned to DR Congo.

The authorities said they had expressed their displeasure with their Congolese counterparts, who are yet to make an official comment.

Tension has been rising between the two countries. DR Congo had accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group in the east of the country, a claim denied by Kigali.

In recent months, more than 100,000 people have fled their homes and many have been killed after fighting reignited between Congolese soldiers and the M23.

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo erupted three decades ago and has left more than six million dead and forced 4.5 million from their homes.

violence has increased once more as security forces battle against more than 100 armed groups in the east of the country, despite the presence of a large United Nations peacekeeping operation.

Both the M23 and the Congolese army have accused each other of starting the clashes leading to the current crisis.

The intensity of the escalation has been such that President Félix Tshisekedi issued a call to arms on Thursday. He urged the country’s youth to “organise themselves into vigilance groups” to support the army.

The effects of the conflict are not restricted to DR Congo, but are also souring diplomatic relations between Rwanda and DR Congo, which accuses its neighbour of backing the M23 rebels, and even expelled the Rwandan ambassador last week. Rwanda denies the claims

The M23, which was formed a decade ago, claims to defend the interests of ethnic Tutsis living in DR Congo against Hutu militias.

Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, came to power as the head of a rebel Tutsi army fighting Hutu extremists who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Many of those responsible then fled to DR Congo after Mr Kagame’s forces took over in Rwanda, taking the conflict across the border with them. -BBC

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