A Rwandan civilian, based in the country’s Western Province, was injured in the escalating fighting in DRC after being hit by a stray bullet, originating from clashes among a coalition of Kinshasa-backed illegal armed groups on the eastern side of the country close to the Rwandan border.
The incident, which occurred around mid-day on Monday, October 24, was announced by the office of the government spokesperson.
It comes weeks after fighting resumed early this month between the country’s armed forces (FARDC) against the M23 rebel group.
The ongoing conflict in the eastern DRC has been a cause for concern for neighboring countries, and this incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers faced by civilians living in close proximity to the volatile region. The stray bullet, fired during hostilities between the coalition of illegal armed groups, inadvertently crossed the border and caused injury to an unsuspecting Rwandan civilian.
A statement released by the office of the government spokesperson noted that; “The injured man is receiving treatment at the Cyanzarwe Health Centre in Rubavu,” adding that; “Rwanda is deeply concerned by the ongoing support and collaboration of the Government of the DRC with FDLR, other illegal armed groups, and foreign mercenaries, which is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border, in violation of the Luanda and Nairobi processes.”
Fighting resumed Sunday, October 1, in eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu province pitting the country’s armed forces (FARDC) against the M23 rebel group.
In separate statements, the two warring parties, which had been observing a fragile ceasefire since November 2022, accused each other of starting the fire exchange on Sunday afternoon in Kilolirwe and other areas in Masisi territory in spite of calls by regional leaders to end the conflict peacefully.
Also prompted was a meeting of Chiefs of Defence Staff from a four-bloc mechanism for DR Congo, who were expected to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the auspices of the African Union (AU) to map out the harmonisation of existing and planned troop deployments to the country’s resistive east.
“Rwanda will maintain defensive and preventive mechanisms to guard against violations of our airspace and borders and counter any spill-over into Rwanda from any armed group, in order to ensure the security and safety of Rwandan citizens and residents,” the statement reads in part.
However, in a statement dated October 12, the East African Community (EAC) said it is “deeply concerned” about the escalation of hostilities by armed groups in eastern DR Congo, especially in the area of operation of the bloc’s regional force.
Rwanda has reiterated its commitment to regional peace and stability, vowing to support the DRC in its efforts to restore calm and foster lasting peace in the troubled eastern region. The government stands firm in its resolve to protect its citizens and ensure their safety, while also advocating for an end to the violence that has ravaged parts of the DRC for far too long.