Congo, Rwanda control tempers after border shoot-out

Tue Nov 6, 2012 5:05am GMT
 

By Kenny Katombe

KABUANGA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo sought on Monday to prevent the killing of a Congolese soldier in a border clash from causing an escalation of already tense relations, officials said.

"Relations are the same with Rwanda. We're in contact with them. It was just an isolated incident," Congolese army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli said during a visit to the scene of the shooting in eastern Congo, at a spot where the border runs through a potato patch.

"You can see there's no natural frontier, so it's easy for someone to make a mistake and find himself in another territory," he said, waving towards a group of potato farmers watching from just metres (yards) away in Rwanda.

The Congolese army at the weekend said one of its members had been killed on Saturday during an incident involving a Congolese soldier and a Rwandan soldier.

Rwanda said soldiers from Congo's armed forces had crossed the border on a reconnaissance mission and one was killed in a clash with Rwandan troops while one escaped.

On Monday, apart from a handful of military men watching silently from a nearby hilltop, there was little to indicate that the tense border runs through the water-logged field where the Congolese soldier was killed.

Relations between the two Great Lakes neighbours, never warm, have chilled considerably since United Nations investigators accused Rwanda earlier this year of backing eastern Congo's M23 rebels, a charge Kigali strongly denies.

Yet for all the cross words exchanged after their armies engaged in the rare firefight on Saturday, both sides were quick to head off a possible escalation - a subtle nod to just how much worse things could get.   Continued...

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila (R) and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame attend a meeting at the Congo-Rwanda border near Goma in eastern Congo, August 6, 2009. REUTERS/John Kanyunyu
 
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.