Rwanda vows to retaliate if attacked in dispute with DRC

A Congolese army tank heads towards the front line near Kibumba in the area surrounding the North Kivu city of Goma on May 25, 2022 during clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels. (ARLETTE BASHIZI / AFP)

KIGALI, May 31 – Rwanda will retaliate if it suffers further attacks from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, after accusing Congo of firing shells across the border earlier this month.

The M23 insurgency stems from the long fallout from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

Congo summoned Rwanda's ambassador and suspended RwandAir flights to Congo over the weekend in response to what it said was Kigali's support for M23 rebels carrying out a military offensive in its eastern borderlands.

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Rwanda denies the claims and has in turn accused Congo's army of fighting alongside the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed group founded by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide.

"If attacks continue we will not sit idly by… Rwanda will have the right to respond to protect the security of the country, to protect the security of its citizens and we have the means to do that," Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta told reporters.

The clashes threaten to unravel relations between the two countries, which had improved since Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi came to power three years ago.

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The M23 insurgency stems from the long fallout from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.