The DRC and Rwanda

The news in the DRC is both good and bad. The good

Heavy battles around the resource-rich eastern city of Goma between M23 rebels and the government — backed by a newly deployed special offensive United Nations force — come amid fresh UN accusations Rwandan troops are actively backing the rebels.

In DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, Information Minister Lambert Mende said government and UN troops had pushed forward from the flashpoint city to take back territory in the surrounding hills from the rebels.

“We achieved most of our goals,” Mende told reporters, adding that the aim was to drive rebels from hilltop positions up to 15 kilometres (nine miles) north of Goma, including strongholds from where he said the M23 are taking pot shots at civilians.

and the bad:

On Thursday, the UN said it had “consistent and credible reports” of Rwandan troops entering DR Congo to support the rebels, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo scotched the reports, in a brief comment made on Twitter.

“Rwandan troops are not in DRC (yet), when they are, you will know,” she wrote Friday, without giving further details.

Tensions have risen yet higher after Rwanda accused Kinshasa’s forces of also firing multiple shells and rockets across the border into its territory, killing at least one woman.

“We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated,” Mushikiwabo said in a furious statement late Thursday. “We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory.”

So, the offensive against the rebels initially at least is going ok, but Rwanda seems to be implying that they might send troops into the DRC … even if the shelling has been done by the rebels which the UN says Rwanda has supported:

Fighting from the war in eastern Congo that pits U.N. and Congolese forces against M23 rebels spilled over into Rwanda Thursday when multiple shells landed inside the country. In New York, the U.N. said the firing originated from positions held by M23.

M23’s ranks are swollen with undercover Rwandan soldiers, according to repeated reports by the United Nations Group of Experts. Rwanda denies it supports M23.

Mushikiwabo had said earlier the shells were fired by Congo troops. She later said Rwanda doesn’t care who fired the shells but only that the shelling ends.

In New York, the United Nations said the U.N. force “can confirm firing incidents into Rwandan territory originated from M23 positions” from Aug. 22-29, and stressed that “it has not witnessed any Congolese Armed Forces firing into Rwandan territory during this period.”

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