On Saturday, the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) called for the release of two Rwandan soldiers being held by FDLR rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The RDF said the two soldiers were kidnapped while on patrol and accused DRC armed forces (FARDC) together with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) of the attack along the border.
FDRL, an armed rebel group active in eastern DRC, has been accused of committing gross human rights violations in eastern DRC and neighboring countries. FDLR is largely composed of elements widely blamed for the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. RDF added it has located the kidnapped soldiers who are being held by FDLR in eastern DRC.
“We call upon authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo that work closely with these genocidal armed groups to secure the release of the RDF soldiers,” RDF authorities said.
This development came after Patrick Muyaya, DRC government spokesperson announced late Friday that the DRC has evidence that the Rwandan army is supporting the March 23 Movement (M23), another rebel group classified by the DRC government as a terrorist group in the DRC.
The North Kivu Governorate’s tweet reads, “Official statement on the arrest of two Rwandan defense force soldiers in the DRC.”
Muyaya also announced that all flights of RwandAir, the flag carrier airline of Rwanda, to the DRC soil are immediately suspended.
The Rwanda Defence Force has denied on different occasions allegations that it involved itself in supporting the activities of the M23 rebel attacks in DRC. Over the past few days, fighting has raged between the DRC army and M23 rebels in DRC’s northeastern North Kivu province, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes in the region.
The M23 is a group of former rebels of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). The name came from the March 23, 2009, agreement between the CNDP and the Congolese government.
M23, who claims the DRC government had violated the 2009 peace deal, briefly seized Goma, capital of the North Kivu province, in late 2012 before being pushed back by the army the following year. Since late 2021, M23 has resumed fighting with the army in the region.