Congo says army clashed with Rwandan troops after incursion

by Reuters
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 11:38 GMT

Democratic Republic of Congo military (FARDC) personnel patrol against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) rebels near Beni in North-Kivu province, December 31, 2013 REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

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KINSHASA, June 11 (Reuters) - Soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo exchanged fire on Wednesday with Rwandan troops who crossed the border and seized a Congolese soldier, a Congolese government spokesman said.

"Elements from the Rwandan army crossed the border not far from Kibumba around 0330 this morning (0130 GMT) and took a Congolese corporal, which provoked a reaction from our soldiers there who opened fire," Lambert Mende told Reuters.

Kibumba is in North Kivu province where Congo's army, backed by U.N. peacekeepers, defeated the M23 rebellion last year. Rwanda denied allegations by Congo and United Nations officials that it had backed the rebellion.

No comment was immediately available from the Rwandan government on Wednesday on the reported border incident.

Renewed tensions between the two neighbours may undermine international efforts to bring stability to Congo's mineral-rich, lawless east and the wider region after years of conflict.

General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, commander of U.N. peacekeepers in Congo, told a news conference on Wednesday fighting had taken place and said the U.N. would investigate the clash now that the situation was calm.

Mende said the clash went on until 0800 when the Rwandan troops pulled back.

"However they still have the corporal, so tensions remain high despite the end to the shooting," he said. "This is pure provocation."

(Reporting by Pete Jones in Kinshasa and Kenny Katombe in Goma; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by David Lewis and Andrew Roche)

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