DRC denies fighter jet violated Rwandan airspace; accuses Rwanda of “act of war”


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday denounced Rwanda’s accusation that a Congolese fighter jet violated Rwandan airspace, saying the plane was attacked by Rwandan forces in an “act of deliberate aggression which amounts to an act of war”.

The Rwanda Government Communications Office released a statement on Tuesday on Twitter which said: “Today at 17:03 a DR Congo Sukhoi-25 violated Rwandan airspace for the third time. Defensive measures were taken. Rwanda calls on the DRC to stop this aggression” .

The Congolese government later issued a statement disputing Kigali’s version of events, claiming that the plane was “attacked as it began its landing on the runway of Goma International Airport”.

“Rwandan fire was directed at a Congolese aircraft flying inside Congolese territory. It did not fly over Rwandan airspace. The aircraft landed without significant material damage.”

He goes on to say that “the Government considers this umpteenth attack by Rwanda as a deliberate act of aggression that amounts to an act of war” with the “sole aim of sabotaging” ongoing efforts to restore peace in the east of the DRC, where a rebel insurgency has fractured relations between the two countries.

CNN cannot independently verify any version of events.

A video widely shared on Congolese social media showed a projectile firing at an airborne military plane, before exploding in mid-air near the plane, which was still flying. CNN could not immediately verify the video.

Rwanda is accused by the Congolese government, the United Nations and Western allies of supporting the notorious M23 armed rebel group in its violent insurgency in eastern DRC, which Kigali denies.

Regional leaders negotiated a deal in November under which the Tutsi-led group was to withdraw from positions it had recently taken in January. 15 as part of efforts to end the fighting that has displaced at least 450,000 people.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said last week that the rebels had not completely withdrawn from those areas.

In December, Rwanda said another Congolese fighter jet had briefly violated its airspace.

An unarmed Congolese warplane also briefly landed at a Rwandan airport in November while on a reconnaissance mission near the border, in what Congo said was an accident.

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