By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Kivu: The Congolese military said Monday it had thwarted an incursion of the Rwandan army in the Nyiragongo territory in the neighbouring North Kivu province which led to an armed clash that saw Rwandan soldiers briefly held, according to sources.
Lt. Col. Guillaume Ndjike Kaiko, the spokesman for the 34th military region, told reporters in Goma that elements of Rwandan forces crossed the border, entering some 200 meters (656 feet) into DR Congo.
Regarding the incident, Vincent Karega, the Rwandan ambassador to Kinshasa, said: “There was no incursion, what happened was an incident of error in estimating the borderline. The security forces were pursuing smugglers who chose to run to DR Congo.”
“One of the Rwandan law enforcement officers crossed a few meters while pursuing these fraudsters who had unknown goods. The Congolese forces arrested him for having exceeded the borderline by a few meters. Those who know the place know that it is very difficult to identify the border with the naked eye,” Karega told said.
The incident happened in the Kibumba area, according to Col. Ndjike.
Rwandan soldiers temporarily occupied six Congolese villages, before being thwarted, said Ndjike, adding that it was after the arrival of the Congolese army that they turned back.
He said the Congolese authorities would refer the matter to the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, a regional military framework for 12 countries of the Great Lakes region.
“The elements who made incursions into Kibumba are well known and identified. These are elements of the RDF (Rwanda Defense Force),” insisted Ndjike.
Karega said there was firing in the air on both sides of the border but no exchange of fire occurred. “There is no conflict and no border disputes. There was no aggression,” he said.
“Why would we occupy Congolese villages? We have no interest in it. I don’t understand where this information comes from. … Trade and visits between the two countries continue in total harmony,” he added.
The countries have had other border skirmishes in recent years.
In 2018, the Rwandan army said three Congolese soldiers were killed in a fire exchange after attacking an army position in northern Rwanda.
In 2014, it accused the Congolese army of firing a rocket on its territory in western Rwanda, in the border district of Rubavu, while in 2013, Rwanda also accused them of firing over 60 projectiles on Rwandan territory, killing and injuring civilians.