By IGNATIUS SSUUNA
KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Rwanda’s military says a Congolese soldier crossed the border and began shooting at Rwandan security forces and civilians before being shot dead, the latest escalation in tensions between the countries that has led to talk of war.
A Rwanda Defense Force statement said the unidentified soldier crossed the border Friday morning in Rubavu district and injured two Rwandan police officers. The statement said a Rwanda National Police officer fired in self-defense and the Congolese soldier was killed.
The Rwandan statement said Congolese authorities were informed and border officials from both countries were at the scene. A body of military experts from regional states also was at the scene.
“The situation at the border is now calm,” Rwanda’s statement said. The government later told reporters it was seeking dialogue.
A Congo government spokesman confirmed an “incident” but gave no details. The body of the Congolese soldier was taken back across the border and into the city of Goma, where a large crowd accompanied the car with his remains while shouting “hero.”
Decades-old tensions between Rwanda, which has one of Africa’s most effective militaries, and Congo, one of the continent’s largest and most troubled countries, have spiked along their shared border a few hours’ drive from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, which hosts the Commonwealth summit next week.
Alarm has reached the point where Kenya’s president is urging the immediate deployment of a newly created regional force to eastern Congo to keep the peace.
Each side has accused the other of incursions. Congo now seeks to suspend all agreements with Rwanda. If Rwanda wants war, “it will have war,” a spokesman for the military governor of Congo’s North Kivu province told thousands of protesters on Wednesday.
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