Congo says soldiers killed in border skirmish with Rwanda

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Congolese soldiers were killed and wounded in a cross-border skirmish with Rwandan troops this week, Democratic Republic of Congo’s military said on Thursday.

Each side accused the other of violating the poorly-demarcated border, the scene of periodic clashes in recent years. Around the turn of the century, millions of people were killed in wars in the region.

Guillaume Ndjike, a spokesman for Congo’s army in North Kivu province, said he did not yet have exact figures but that Tuesday’s fighting broke out when an army patrol came under fire from Rwandan troops 200 meters (yards) into Congolese territory.

“According to our information, there were deaths and injuries during the exchange of fire, which took place several hours before the two countries declared a ceasefire,” Ndjike said.

Rwanda’s army denied it had crossed the border, writing to the ICGLR, a regional body, on Wednesday that Congolese troops “violated our territorial border and subsequently attacked our defensive position”.

Both sides asked the ICGLR to dispatch a team to investigate the incident.

Since the end of two major wars in eastern Congo between 1996-2003, Rwanda has backed a series of insurrections in the region, saying its actions were necessary to neutralize perpetrators of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide who fled to eastern Congo.

Reporting By Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Robin Pomeroy