The DR Congo army arrested about 10 Rwandan soldiers along with Congolese rebels of the M23 movement before they captured the city of Goma last month, a government spokesman said Tuesday.
Lambert Mende said the detained men included “about 10 Rwandans with a few Congolese” from M23. “They were arrested in Kibumba and around Goma during the fighting (...) before the seizure of Goma,” he added.
Mende said that in all there were 38 people who had been arrested and who were being transferred from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Kinshasa. He said that the arrests were “striking proof” of neighbouring Rwanda's involvement alongside M23.
Goma, the regional capital of North Kivu province, fell into the hands of the M23 rebels on November 20 after fighting with the regular army. The rebels pulled out of the major northeastern town on December 1 under pressure from a regional grouping of countries.
Since the beginning of the M23 rebellion by former army mutineers, the Congolese authorities have denounced alleged support for the mainly Tutsi movement by Rwanda. Reports by UN experts gave substance to these charges and also implicated Uganda, which also borders on eastern DR Congo.
The Kigali and Kampala governments have denied any backing for M23, which consists mainly of former members of the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which signed a peace pact with Kinshasa in March 2009. M23 accuses Kinshasa of failing to follow through with this accord.
When Goma fell into the hands of the rebels, a second UN report denounced support for M23 in men and logistics by Rwanda and Uganda. Rwanda again rejected the allegations. Uganda is currently hosting peace talks between M23 and the Kinshasa government.
The military spokesman for the UN mission in DR Congo, Lieutenant-Colonel Prosper Basse, said that at present, “at the level of MONUSCO, we are not aware” of the arrests.
Mende said that the UN mission should be informed, “as we usually do in this type of case.”
Kinshasa claimed before the fall of Goma that “51 bodies wearing Rwandan army uniforms were picked up” in the Kibumba zone, where the fighting began hard by the Rwandan border. Kigali rejected this as “an old technique of easy propaganda to try to drag Rwanda into discord.” - Sapa-AFP