The Government of Rwanda has strongly condemned the continuous shelling of its territory from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after the latest attacks yesterday killed one woman and seriously injured her two-months old son.
The victim was identified as Vestine Mukagasana.
On Thursday alone, 10 bombs were fired into the border district of Rubavu, with the first targeting a market at around 9:45 am.
“The persistent shelling of Rwandan territory is unacceptable, as it would be to any sovereign nation. Rwandan civilians are being targeted by DRC forces. We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated,” Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government spokesperson said yesterday.
The second bomb landed at 11.20am near the Grand Barriere – one of the two official border crossing points into DRC.
The eight other bomb attacks on Thursday landed in Busasamana village at 11.30am.
These attacks follow 13 bombs and rockets fired by DRC forces on Wednesday at Rwandan border villages in Rubavu District. A total of 34 bombs and rockets have been fired into Rwanda in the last month alone.
The Government blamed the attacks on the joint operations of Congolese army (FARDC) and the FDLR, a Congo-based militia group widely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda which claimed at least a million people.
“We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory. Rwanda has a responsibility to protect its population,” Mushikiwabo said.
She added that Rwanda has “repeatedly urged the Government of DRC to stop attacks on its territory but instead violations have increased in frequency and intensity.”
The spokesperson heavily criticized the international community for their indifference towards the attacks stating that no one was “calling out the FDLR génocidaires who continue to be inexplicably shielded, while actively collaborating with DRC forces right across Rwanda’s border”.
“It is hypocritical for the international community to talk about protecting civilians when FARDC together with FDLR are causing harm to our citizens as if the lives of Rwandans have no value. The attacks by FARDC and FDLR have now reached another level.”
It was regrettable, Mushikiwabo added, that the international community has not mastered the necessary coherence to properly manage the situation, including supporting the regional political dialogue that had yielded a lull in the fighting in Eastern DRC.
The Minister went to on to reassure all Rwandans, especially those living near DRC border, that their safety will be protected.
“There has been no population displacement because of the shelling. It is the responsibility of the leadership of this country to defend our borders and we will bring this shelling to an end,” she said.
Strategy of provocation
The shelling by FARDC and FDLR has been a sustained strategy of provocation designed to draw Rwanda into the conflict, Mushikiwabo said.
“Rwanda is the most willing signatory to the peace and security framework (for the DRC and the region) and we have done everything we can to contribute durable peace in the Eastern DRC.”
“But we will not stand by while the army of one of the signatories continues to shell civilian targets in Rwanda.”
Meanwhile the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) last evening moved heavy arsenal to the border district of Rubavu.
DRC-FDLR AGGRESSION TIMELINE
>On November 3, 2012 two FARDC and FDLR fighters conduct combined, armed reconnaissance at Busasamana, Rubavu. Cpl Nzaza Nyabigoro, a suspected FDLR fighter embedded with 391 Recce Bn of FARDC, is killed. His remains were handed over to the FARDC 8 Military Region Commander, Col Evariste Somo Kakule.
>On November 27, the FDLR attacks Muti village, Rubavu. Kigali says the attack was conducted by two companies of FDLR estimated at 150. The attackers wore FARDC uniforms, had DRC identification documents and used arms and ammunition provided by FARDC;
>On 2 December 2, FDLR attacks Rwanda and kill an employee of Karisoke Research Centre (a conservation organisation) in Kinigi, Musanze District
>On May 24, 2013 FDLR fires on Rwanda territory in Bisoke along the border with DRC. The FDLR withdraw back to DRC;
>In November 2012, FARDC fires a total of 15 bombs into villages on the Rwandan territory;
>On July 15, two bombs land in the villages of Gisura and Ruhara, Rubavu District, fired from the outskirts of Goma in the general area of Kanyarucinya, a military position occupied by Monusco and the Congolese army. One of the bombs is identified as 100mm High Explosive Anti-Tank (Heat) fired by a T-54/T-55 Tank;
>On July 26 two grenades explode in the City of Kigali killing three people, including a child, and injuring several others. (The attack was blamed on FDLR after two suspected operatives were arrested while trying to escape across the DRC border. The suspects confessed, saying they were working on the instructions of a senior FDLR commander).
>August 22, a 107mm rocket lands in Bugu village, Rubavu;
>August 23, five 120mm mortar bombs land in the villages of Kagezi, Bukumu, Kageyo, and Rusura in Rubavu.
> On August 24, five bombs land in the villages of Hanika, Muti Bushengo, Bisizi and Kageyo in Rubavu District.
>On August 28, at 11.45a.m four 82mm mortar bombs are fired at Rutagara village, targeting RDF defensive position causing damage, and at 11.50am, five 107mm rockets are fired at the villages of Kageyo and Kingogo, damaging property. Also between 17.30p.m and 17.45pm, FADRC fires four rockets and bombs from the outskirts of Goma in Kanyarucinya, Nyiragongo territory occupied by FARDC and Monusco forces. The bombs and rockets land in the villages of Gakomero, Kamivuba, Rutagara and at Mont Rubavu, overlooking Rubavu town.
>On August 29, one bomb lands in a marketplace in Bugangari in Rubavu town killing a woman, Vestine Mukagasana and seriously injuring her two-month old son. A second bomb lands near the Grand Barriere in Rubavu town, injuring one person; eight bombs land at Busasamana village in Rubavu.