Rwandan forces on Tuesday (January 24) shot at a fighter jet from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and accused them of violating its airspace, reported Reuters. In turn, the Congolese government denying this accusation called the move an “act of war”, in a statement. According to local media reports from Rwanda, the incident took place at 5:03 pm (local time).
In a statement, Congo also confirmed that the plane later landed in the provincial capital Goma and did not suffer any major damage. Furthermore, the Rwandan government also said the country’s forces had fired at a Sukhoi-25 which violated the airspace in Rubavu and prompted them to take “defensive measures”.
The Rwandan government spokesperson said the country asks the DRC to “stop this aggression”, as per Reuters. While the Congolese government has described the move by Rwanda as a “deliberate act of aggression that amounts to an act of war” which was aimed at undermining the peace agreement to end an offensive by the M23 rebel group.
This comes amid strained relations between the two countries as Congo, the United Nations experts and some Western countries have previously accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group which seized several towns and villages in eastern Congo. Rwanda has since denied these accusations.
In November, regional leaders brokered an agreement according to which the rebel group was asked to withdraw from the seized position by January last week to end the conflict. Last week, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, said that the rebels have completely withdrawn. A similar incident took place back in December when Rwanda accused Congo of briefly violating its airspace.