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M23 Rebels Fired into Rwanda and Rwandan Defense Forces Bombed Goma, Observers Say

FARDC Commander Colonel Mamadou Ndala Moustafa on the Battlefront Near Goma

FARDC Commander Colonel Mamadou Ndala Moustafa on the Battlefront Near Goma

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Information Minister and Government spokesperson, Lambert Mende, has accused the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) of firing a dozen of mortar shells into Goma and killing four people from one family and wounding dozens.
“These deadly attacks deliberately targeted civilians residing  in the city of Goma. We must conclude that this constitutes war crimes as defined by the International Law. The DRC government calls on the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to qualify them as such: war crimes and crimes against humanity.  … We are waiting for Rwandan Government to explain these grave acts of aggression,” Mr Lambert said.
The accusations by the DRC government minister support claims from the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) officials that the Rwandan backed M23 Congolese rebels have fired rockets into Rwanda on Thursday August 22, 2013 (see our article: Rwandan Military Accuses FARDC of Bombing Rwanda As M23 Rebels Resume Combats. On Friday, August 23, 2013, the UN officials in New York confirmed that M23 rebels bombed Rwandan territory and also destroyed telecommunications infrastructure used by MONUSCO in the city of Goma, Eastern DRC, including a phone tower.

These new developments follow renewed fightings between the M23 rebels and the DRC forces, FARDC, after a lure of a few weeks. In the latest fightings, the DRC government claims to have killed 17 rebels. The combats saw the involvement of the UN Intervention Brigade, which had been on the sidelines in earliest fightings.
The U.N. Intervention Brigade comprises troops from Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

South African President Zuma’s office announced on Friday August 22, 2013, that it had deployed 1,345 troops since June 13, 2013 and that the troops would remain until March 31, 2014,. South African soldiers comprise about half of the
troops in the brigade. The announcement by South African President follows a three-day meeting in Luanda, Angola among the South African President Jacob Zuma, the Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and the DRC President Joseph Kabila. The three presidents signed a military cooperation agreement.
However, the South African troops, although seen in the outskirts of Goma, did not participate in the latest fightings. Only the Tanzanian troops attacked and destroyed a M23 rebels’s tank.
So far, the Malawian army has not yet deployed the promised 850 fighting soldiers. According to sources close to the UN Intervention Brigade, the Malawian government has been unable to find the planes to transport troops between the capital Lilongwe and Goma. The Malawian government is now seeking help from the South African and Tanzanian governments.

Observers in Goma who confirmed that both the firings into the Rwandan territory and Goma are the work of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) and their proxy M23 rebels, said that Rwanda government may have used the Thursday shelling into Rwanda to justify the shelling of Goma.
The aim is to create chaos and confusion. Rwanda government may then say that it is self defense,” one observer said.
“It is a classic behavior from the Rwandan government: playing the arsonist and the firefighter. Fortunately, the secret behind that game has been discovered,” said another observer close to the MONUSCO.

The Congolese Minister affirms that the DRC Government has compelling proofs on when and where the bombings came from: ”

“Based on the preliminary results of the investigation by our experts, most of the rockets were fired from the territory of the Republic of Rwanda. The rockets launchers were precisely located in the areas of  Mukamira and Rugerero in the border district of Rubavu, and  in  Mahoko. The eleven rockets that hit Goma yesterday were fired from these areas”.

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