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Rwanda Demands Release of Soldiers Held by FDLR Inside DRC

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FDLR elements are fighting alongside government forces.

Rwanda has demanded the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to secure the release of her two soldiers who are held by terror organisation, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), following the May 23 skirmishes between Congolese government forces FARDC and rebel movement M23, which spilled over the Rwandan border.

In a statement issued on Saturday May 28, the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) called on the DRC government to work closely with FDLR and ensure the release of the two soldiers who were captured on patrol along the border.

“Following the provocative aggression by FARDC on 23 May 22, where multiple rockets were fired on Rwandan territory, FARDC with FDLR attacked RDF along our border, and two Rwanda Defence Force soldiers were kidnapped while on patrol,”

“We have since located these two soldiers: Cpl Nkundabagenzi Elysee and Pte Ntwari Gad being held by FDLR in Eastern DRC. We call upon authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo that work closely with these genocidal armed groups to secure the release of the RDF soldiers,” the statement reads without stating the next course of action.

Over the past week or so, insecurity in the Eastern part of DRC intensified as the M23 rebel movement accused FARDC and the UN peacekeeping force in DRC, MONUSCO, of working together to attack their locations, prompting them to fight back and push towards the eastern DRC town of Goma.

Rwanda has refused to be drawn into the most recent conflict, instead the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) to investigate cross-border shelling on Rwandan territory by the Congolese government forces on Monday, May 23rd.

FARDC rockets shelled areas of Kinigi and Nyange Sectors in Musanze District which also borders Gahunga sector in Burera District, injuring several civilians and damaging property. Col Ronald Rwivanga, military spokesperson said that the situation in the area was normal at the time and security was assured.

Government officials and politicians in DRC have been making inflammatory statements, calling for war against Rwanda and Uganda, who they accuse of backing the M23 rebels, who first launched a rebellion in 2012. The group, made up most of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese, accuse the government of President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi of reneging on the provisions of a 2013 peace agreement that led to the dissolution of the rebel organisation.

Some of the members of M23 who were reintegrated in the government forces while others led by Sultan Makenga fled into neighbouring countries. However, the peace deal never held ground as the former rebels accused the government of targeting them and sidelining them while Kinyarwanda-speaking communities continued to be attacked and discriminated against.

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