The Rwandan foreign ministry said Wednesday that if the nation were again attacked by the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the government would reciprocate.
After accusing the Congo of firing mortar rounds across the border in May, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta told reporters.
“If the assaults continue, we will not stand by and do nothing; Rwanda will have the right to respond to safeguard the safety of the country and that of its inhabitants, and we have the resources to do so.”
Congo also summoned the Rwanda ambassador and halted RwandAir flights to Congo over the weekend in retaliation for Kigali’s alleged assistance to M23 rebels who were conducting a military attack on the country’s eastern borders.
However, Rwanda disputes the allegations, accusing the Congo army of fighting alongside the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed organization created by ethnic Hutus fleeing Rwanda following the 1994 genocide.
According to Biruta, FDLR members were in the ranks of the Congolese army when their bullets damaged homes and injured people on the Rwandan side of the border.
“Their speech on FDLR no longer makes sense,” Congo government spokesman Patrick Muyaya told Reuters.
“They cannot claim to be victims of the FDLR.” The FDLR are killing our people, not the Rwandans; it is we who are suffering.
The fighting threatens to destabilize ties between the two nations, which have greatly improved since Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi took office three years ago.
The M23 uprising grew out of the long-term consequences of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.