• World - Africa
  • Updated: January 29, 2023

Rwandan Troops, Congo Police Clash

A clash between Rwandan soldiers and DR Congo police on a small island in Lake Kivu sparked panic given ongoing tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa, Congolese sources said on Sunday.

A DRC naval source located in the region stated on condition of anonymity that police stationed on Ibindja island in eastern Congo on the south side of the lake that the neighbours' border bisects challenged three boats carrying armed Rwandan troops as they neared their base on Saturday.

According to the source, a DRC police officer proceeded to question the soldiers about their presence on the Congolese side of the border.

Following a dispute, voices were raised and there were exchanges of gunfire," causing panic among Chivumu village residents.

Local civil society activist Jackson Kalimba said some families abandoned the island and sought sanctuary just over the sea in Birava.

Naval sources also disclosed that Rwandan forces retreated to the base without disembarking on the island, and Archimedes Karhebwa, the DRC's local assistant administrator, declared the situation was under control on Sunday.

He claimed one police officer had received a gunshot wound and that the local navy unit was on alert awaiting military high command adopting "measures to reinforce surveillance of Lake Kivu".

Rwandan officials reached by AFP on Sunday afternoon had not commented on the incident.

The recent revival of the Tutsi-led rebel organization M23 has strained relations between the neighbours.

After months of pushing towards Goma, the capital of the DRC province of North Kivu near the northern end of the lake and also bordering Rwanda, the group has committed to withdrawing from seized regions.

Kinshasa accused Kigali of supporting the insurgents, which Rwanda denies.

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Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi
Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi

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