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DRC Says Rwanda Backs M23 Rebels

FILE: In this photo taken November 28, 2012, M23 rebel fights are seen in Karuba, some 60km west of the eastern DRC city of Goma. DRC claims Rwanda today is behind these insurgents.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group, as clashes between the army and the militia continued in the east of the country on Thursday. Fighting with the rebel group erupted this week in North Kivu, a conflict-torn province which borders Rwanda.

The accusation that Rwanda is backing M23 insurgents in the Democratic Republic of Cong0 came Wednesday evening from government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.

"Suspicions are crystallizing that the M23 has received support from Rwanda," he said.

The DRC accusation was echoed by another of its officials, Foreign Affairs Minister Christophe Lutundula.

"This is the height of brazenness, we cannot remain indifferent, we cannot say nothing," he told delegates at an African Union meeting in Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.

DR Congo and Rwanda have had a strained relationship since the mass arrival in the republic of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Kinshasa has regularly accused Rwanda of carrying out incursions into its territory and of backing armed groups there. Rwanda has denied such activities.

On Monday, Rwanda urged an investigation into an alleged rocket attack on its territory by Congolese armed forces.

DRC on Wednesday announced it had also requested an investigation through a regional body that monitors security incidents in Africa's volatile Great Lakes region.

Relations had begun to thaw after DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited tensions.

General Francois-Xavier Aba van Ang, a high-ranking police officer in North Kivu, has told city residents to prepare to defend themselves with machetes, according to a video posted on social media.

But DRC spokesperson Muyaya called the general's remarks "dangerous."

"Appealing to the use of machetes, hate speech, stigmatization is extremely dangerous and should be banned," he tweeted on Thursday.

The DRC accusation also drew a response from the M23 re bels.

M23 on Thursday also stated that it was concerned by calls to violence.

"MONUSCO and the DRC government should stop this very dangerous slippage to avoid the genocide," it said, using an acronym to refer to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC.