RUBAVU - A group of the so-called, Forces Démocratiques de la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels on Sunday night fired shots at a small village in Rubavu District, Western Province. FDLR is an amalgamation of remnants of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and Interahamwe militia, both of whom are largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide which claimed an estimated one million lives. The incident happened in Rusura Cell in Busasamana Sector at around 1 am where hundreds of rounds were fired for about two hours.
Local leaders said there were no lives lost during the night attack.
Eye witnesses said the attackers numbered between 70 and 100. The government said the rebels only fired from across the border without crossing into the country.
President Paul Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Dr Richard Sezibera, said the FDLR fighters fired using a machine gun. He however denied the rebels entered the Rwandan territory.
“They fired some shots over from DRC, and we are following up that incident with the Congolese authorities to find out what happened,” he said yesterday adding that the shootings did not kill anybody.
The Military Spokesman Maj. Jill Rutaremara said the incident was not an attack.
“They just shot from across the border and left. They fixed a Machine Gun and fired from about 800 metres inside the Congolese territory,” he said, adding that the gunshots were fired to an area between positions of the 41st and the 51st RDF battalions.
Congelese sources at the scene of the assault said yesterday that the military on Monday recovered 272 bullet cases for machine gun and 14 for SMGs in Rusura Cell.
“They returned to their hideouts in an area north of Goma,” Jean Baptiste Nzabandora, who was on the Congolese side at the time of the shooting in the predawn hours, said.
Goma is the Capital of Congo’s volatile North Kivu province.
Nzabandora said the rebels were carrying machine guns and SMGs.
Following the incident, the RDF Commander of the 221 Brigade, Col. Wilson Kazungu and Rubavu District Mayor Ramazan Barengeyabo, visited the village which was shot at to calm residents.
Barengeyabo told the affected area residents that the rebels had no capacity to destabilize the district, and the country at large, saying that the shooting was only intended to announce their continued presence in the DRC.
He said the military was always ready to repulse the rebels in case of an attack. Col. Kazungu urged residents to be calm and concentrate on their daily activities. The military immediately deployed in area.
Sources said that the rebels could have been earlier deceived that there was no military presence in Rusura Cell.
The shooting comes days after President Paul Kagame yet again urged the 62nd UN General Assembly in New York to help end the problem of FDLR and other negative forces in the DRC.
The incident is the second is the last six months. A similar incident by suspected FDLR rebels occurred earlier this year.
FDLR leader Ignace Murwanashyaka said recently that the rebel group was armed by the former Congolese president Laurent Desire Kabila to fight Rwanda, and that the current Kinshasa administration was aware of that deal.
The incident came at a time when military chiefs from the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi were meeting in the southern Congolese town of Lubumbashi to lay concrete strategies for a UN-DRC joint military operation against FDLR and other negative groups holed up in the Congolese territory.