Rubavu district is on high alert after rockets were once again fired from Congolese territory into various sectors of the district on Thursday.
The mayor of Rubavu, Sheikh Hassan Bahame, told The Rwanda Focus that in the morning a rocket landed near a market in Mbugangari cell, Gisenyi sector where a woman was killed and the six-month-old baby she was carrying on her back was seriously injured by shrapnel.
Bahame added that at around 11.30 am, another person only identified as Omar was also seriously wounded by another bomb in Rusura cell, Busasamana sector. The two injured have been transported to Kigali for treatment.
“By midday today, three rockets had been fired into our district of Rubavu from DRC and even as we are talking now (at around 3 pm, ed.) two more bombs have landed in the area, bringing the total number of rockets fired into the district to 5. This is a serious threat to the lives of the general population,” Bahame said.
The mayor added that the district and security authorities are cautioning residents not to walk in large numbers as more rockets might still be fired from the DRC. In addition, people are also advised not to go to Goma as Rwandans there are being targeted with harassment and torture.
Unconfirmed sources in Goma indicate that a Rwandan Taxi driver identified as Gustave Uwamungu has gone missing and that eye-witnesses saw him being picked up by Congolese police officers after transporting expatriates to Goma from Rwanda.
“We are urging the population in Rubavu and in other districts along the DRC border to be very careful and more vigilant and not to go close to the border because the high insecurity there,” Bahame said.
He called upon Rwandans in general and those in Rubavu in particular to remain calm as the government decides how to react. The government later released the following statement:
SHELLING OF RWANDA BY DRC FORCES INTENSIFIES
Kigali, 29 August 2013
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson said today that DRC forces have intensified deliberate shelling of Rwandan territory. A bomb fired by FARDC at 9.45am this morning killed a woman and seriously injured her two-month old baby in a market in Rubavu town. A second bomb landed at 11.20am near the grand barriere in Rubavu town injuring one person and eight bombs landed at Busasamana village in Rubavu District at 11.30am. This follows thirteen bombs and rockets fired by DRC forces on Wednesday at Rwandan border villages in Rubavu District. A total of 34 bombs and rockets have been fired into Rwanda in the last week by DRC forces.
Minister Mushikiwabo said:
“The persistent shelling of Rwandan territory is unacceptable, as it would be to any sovereign nation. Rwandan civilians are being targeted by DRC forces. We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated. We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory. Rwanda has a responsibility to protect its population.”
Minister Mushikiwabo said the Government of Rwanda has repeatedly urged the Government of DRC to stop attacks on its territory but instead violations have increased in frequency and intensity. She pointed out that no one is calling out the FDLR génocidaires who continue to be inexplicably shielded, while actively collaborating with DRC forces right across Rwanda’s border.
“It is hypocritical for the international community to talk about protecting civilians when FARDC together with FDLR are causing harm to our citizens as if the lives of Rwandans have no value. The attacks by FARDC and FDLR have now reached another level.”
Minister Mushikiwabo said it was regrettable that the international community has not mustered the necessary coherence to properly manage the situation, including supporting the regional political dialogue that had yielded a lull in the fighting in Eastern DRC.
“The shelling by FARDC and FDLR has been a sustained strategy of provocation designed to draw Rwanda into the conflict. Rwanda is the most willing signatory to the peace and security framework and we have done everything we can to contribute durable peace in the Eastern DRC. But we will not stand by while the army of one of the signatories continues to shell civilian targets in Rwanda.”
In chronological order, the FARDC and FDLR attacks since November 2012 are as follows:
1. On 29 August one bomb landed in a marketplace in Bugangari neighbourhood in Rubavu town killing a woman, Vestine Mukagasana and seriously injuring her two-month old son. A second bomb landed near the grand barriere in Rubavu town injured one person and eight bombs landed at Busasamana village in Rubavu District.
2. On 28 August 2013, at 11.45 am four 82 mm mortar bombs were fired at Rutagara village, targeting RDF defensive position causing damage and at 11.50 am, five 107mm rockets were fired at the villages of Kageyo and Kingogo also causing damage to property. Also between 17.30pm and 17.45pm, FADRC fired four rockets and bombs from the outskirts of Goma in Kanyarucinya, Nyiragongo territory occupied by FARDC and Monusco forces. The bombs and rockets landed in the villages of Gakomero, Kamivuba, Rutagara and at Mont Rubavu, overlooking Rubavu town in Rwanda.
3. On 24 August 2013, five bombs landed in the villages of Hanika, Muti Bushengo, Bisizi and Kageyo in Rubavu District;
4. On 23 August 2013, five 120mm mortar bombs landed in the villages of Kagezi, Bukumu, Kageyo, and Rusura in Rubavu District;
5. On 22 August 2013, a 107mm rocket landed in Bugu village, Rubavu District;
6. On 26 July 2013 two grenades exploded in Kigali killing three people, including a child, and injured fifty. The terror act was carried out by two FDLR operatives who were arrested while crossing back to DRC;
7. On 15 July 2013, two bombs landed in the villages of Gisura and Ruhara, Rubavu District, fired from the outskirts of Goma in the general area of Kanyarucinya, a military position occupied by MONUSCO and FARDC. One of the bombs was identified as 100mm High Explosive Anti-Tank (Heat) fired by a T-54/T-55 Tank;
8. In November 2012, FARDC fired a total of 15 bombs into villages on Rwandan territory;
9. On 24 May 2013, FDLR fired on Rwanda territory in Bisoke along the border with DRC. The FDLR then withdrew back to DRC;
10. On 2 December 2012, FDLR attacked Rwanda and killed an employee of Karisoke Research Centre in Kinigi, Musanze District;
11. On 27 November 2012 the FDLR attacked Muti village, Rubavu district. The attack was conducted by two companies of FDLR estimated at 150 criminals. They wore FARDC uniforms, had DRC identification documents and used arms and ammunition provided by FARDC;
12. On 3 November 2012 two FARDC and FDLR fighters conducted combined, armed reconnaissance at Busasamana, Rubavu District in Rwanda. Cpl Nzaza Nyabigoro, a suspected FDLR fighter embedded in 391 Recce Bn of FARDC was killed. His remains were handed over to the FARDC 8 Military Region Commander, Col Evariste Somo Kakule.