The Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that it will close its border with Rwanda daily from 3pm to 6am the next day after a Congolese soldier was killed and two Rwandan police officers were injured in an exchange of fire at a border post in the area. Goma city.
The two African countries have been plunged into a diplomatic crisis since insurgents (backed, according to the Congo, by Rwanda) launched an attack in eastern DR Congo last month. Rwanda denies supporting the M23 guerrillas, whose leadership is of the same Tutsi ethnicity as that of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. He also denies having sent troops to the DRC.
It was announced from the office of the governor of South Kivu that the border will be closed from 15.00, local time, until 6.00 the next morning.
According to the Rwandan army, a Congolese soldier crossed the border and opened fire. Police officers at the opposite guard repaired the fire and killed him, while he had entered the territory of Rwanda 25 meters deep. The incident took place at the “Little Gate” border post.
A Congolese police officer who was present at the incident told AFP that “there are injured people among the citizens who wanted to cross the border.”
Tensions between the two countries escalated after the resurgence of the March 23 (M23) Movement, which is accused of killing at least 26 Congolese soldiers in an attack in Kivu in January. Since then, Kinshasa has accused Kigali of supporting this armed movement.
Early this afternoon, the body of the Congolese soldier was transported back to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the applause of the assembled crowd who called him a “hero”.
An AFP correspondent said CIRGL (International Conference on the Great Lakes Region) observers had a brief conversation with Congolese and Rwandan border officials and would continue their contacts elsewhere in Rwanda.
At the same time, Congolese police prevented about 100 protesters from reaching the “Small Gate”. Protesters chanted slogans against the Rwandan president and demanded the expulsion of Rwandans from the country.
In Bukavu, a neighboring province of South Kivu, hundreds of protesters took to the streets chanting anti-Rwandan slogans.
On Monday, the M23 captured Bunagana, a major trading post on the Ugandan border, with Rwandan military support, according to Congolese-LD authorities.
The M23 rebels were defeated in 2013 but at the end of 2021 took up arms again, accusing the Congolese authorities of not abiding by the agreement on the disarmament and reintegration of fighters.