Sources in Goma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), inform Afroamerica Network that Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) special forces embedded with M23 rebels have killed a Tanzanian peacekeeper of the UN Intervention Bridage. The killing happened on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, while the M23 rebels were attempting to overtake the positions occupied by Congolese army, FARDC, around the town of Goma.
According to the sources, the RDF special forces have been particularly targeting the Tanzanian forces with the UN Intervention Brigade since these forces deployed to Eastern DRC in June 2013. According to AfroAmerica Network sources within M23 rebels, in early July 2013, the RDF special forces had expressed their excitement about a potential military showdown between the Rwandan Defense Forces and Tanzanian People’s Defense Forces in eastern DRC (see our article You Will Be Whipped Like a Small Boy, Tanzania Government Warns Rwandan Dictator General Kagame of July 13, 2013).
At the time, the M23 rebels sources said:
“The Rwandans[Special Forces] are excited right now and are saying that they will hit these Tanzanians and teach them a lesson they will never forget, ” and that
“The Rwandans [Special Forces] are saying that Tanzanians do not remember how to fight and will be routed without a fight,“
The statements, considered as bravados at the time, may have started to translate into real action. if this would prove to be true, Eastern DRC could have become the center of a power play between Tanzanian Jakaya Kikwete and the Rwandan General Paul Kagame and a place where the two may finally get even.
According to sources, along with the Tanzanian peacekeeper killed, a half dozen of Tanzanian officers have been wounded.
In an angry statement, the head of the UN Mission in Congo, MONUSCO, Martin Kobler had qualified the killing as a ” murder by M23 rebels.”
The UN Intervention Brigade has been trying to use helicopters, heavy artillery, and tanks to help FARDC fend off attacks by M23 rebels. The results of the UN Intervention Brigade appears to be mixed. Since the fightings started a week ago, the positions have not much moved, with the M23 rebels holding theirs in Kibati while the FARDC supported by the UN Intervention Brigade trying to push them further North. Meanwhile, the M23 rebels and RDF special forces appear to have dug their heels into the hills of Kibati, since August 21, 2013.
Instead of being driven further North, the M23 rebels, supported by RDF, have been bombing Goma and killing a score of civilians. According to independent sources and the DRC Government, the M23 rebels have also been bombing the Rwandan territory to justify the presence of RDF forces in the DRC, as a self defense.
“We urgently call on (the) DRC and Rwandan governments to exercise restraint to prevent military escalation of the conflict or any action that puts civilians at risk,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, before adding: “We are deeply concerned about evidence of increasing ethnic tensions in Goma and call on all parties to avoid any actions that could exacerbate such tensions.”
The US Government asked the M23 rebels to disband and threatened to “to consider further targeted sanctions against the leaders of the M23 and other armed groups and those who support them.”
Now that the Rwandan Defense Forces and M23 rebels have killed a Tanzanian peace keeper, most eyes will be on both Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. to see what their next moves would be.
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