Two Congolese soldiers were killed in clashes with Rwandan pro-Hutu rebels after two of their leaders were arrested in an eastern frontier region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military spokesperson said on Monday.
The Congolese army has battled militants from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR since Sunday at the foot of the Mikeno volcano near the Rwandan border, according to Guillaume Djike, the army spokesman for Goma in the troubled region of North Kivu.
“We deplore the deaths of two soldiers,” he said.
“On Saturday, two important FLDR individuals were arrested by military intelligence services some 100km northeast of Goma,” he said. “Every member of the FDLR must be repatriated to Rwanda and they will be.”
The arrest had been announced on Twitter by the Rwandan state minister for foreign affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, who described the FLDR as a “genocidal and subversive movement operating in the east of the DRC”.
The FDLR includes several leaders who took part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu majority government. The group was a group set up in 2000 to oppose Rwanda’s post-genocide leader, Paul Kagame.
Kagame on Friday said that at least two Rwandan soldiers had been killed in a December 9 attack blamed on FLDR fighters who had crossed the border from the DR Congo.
Eastern DRC has been a theatre of ethnic violence for 20 years, fuelled in part by the desire to control valuable mineral resources and farmland.
In a separate incident the World Food Programme said that one of its drivers had been shot and killed in the same area of North Kivu.