Rwanda accuses Congo of shelling border town

Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:09pm EST
 
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By Jonny Hogg

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Rwanda accused U.N.-backed Congolese forces of shelling its territory during a battle with rebels near the border on Monday but said it had no plans to respond militarily to what it called Kinshasa's "provocation".

Tension between the central African neighbors is reaching breaking point over an insurgency in Congo's eastern hills that Kinshasa's government says is orchestrated by Rwanda with designs on the region's mineral riches.

"Rwanda does not intend to respond to provocation coming from the DRC," Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told Reuters. "Issues in (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo) are too serious to be subjected to game playing."

A Rwandan army spokesman earlier said Congo's military had fired artillery, anti-aircraft and tank rounds into the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi, injuring three people, as fighting raged between Congo's army and advancing M23 rebels.

Guests at a Rwandan hotel near Congo's border ran for cover on Monday afternoon as heavy weapons fire thudded nearby, a Reuters witness said.

Sustained gunfire could also be heard across the border from the direction of the airport in Goma, the capital of Congo's North Kivu province where Congolese troops, some manning tanks, took up positions in the city center at nightfall.

The M23 halted their advance about 5 km (3 miles) from Goma on Sunday.

Congo's government, which has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the eight-month M23 rebellion as a means of controlling mineral riches in North Kivu, said on Monday Kigali may have staged the shelling on its own territory.   Continued...

 
Recruits of the newly formed Congolese Revolutionary Army march during military training in Rumangabo military camp, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 23, 2012. REUTERS/James Akena