The Rwandan army announced on Tuesday January 16 that it had killed a Congolese soldier and arrested two others, who it said had crossed the border and opened fire, in a context of very tense relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The general staff of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) confirmed this report Tuesday evening in a press release, while affirming that the three soldiers “on patrol” had found themselves “by accident” on Rwandan territory. Earlier in the day, a Congolese security source had also confirmed the facts, but assured that he did not know whether these three men were “wazalendo” (so-called “patriotic” militiamen) or elements of the FARDC.

The three Congolese entered Rwanda around 1:10 a.m. on Tuesday from near Goma, the main city in eastern DRC, the Rwandan army said in a statement. A “soldier was shot dead while firing on patrols,” she added, specifying that she did not report any injuries in her ranks. The members “of the FARDC had in their possession an AK-47 rifle, four 105-round magazines, a protective vest and sachets of cannabis,” Kigali added.

“This situation of Congolese or Rwandan soldiers lost and apprehended on Rwandan or Congolese territory is frequent,” for its part estimated the Congolese general staff in its press release signed by its spokesperson, General Sylvain Ekenge. “Each time, the Joint Verification Mechanism [responsible in particular for investigating this type of border incident] was called upon for their repatriation,” we can still read in the text. The FARDC “deplores” that one of their soldiers was killed. The three soldiers “simply crossed the border inadvertently,” the statement insisted.


The east of the DRC, bordering Rwanda, is the scene of clashes between the Congolese army, allied in particular with local militias and foreign private military companies, and the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23), supported by the Rwandan army. After taking up arms again at the end of 2021 and routing the Congolese army, the rebellion seized large swaths of the territories of Rutshuru and Masisi, in the south of North Kivu, reinforcing tensions between the two countries.

Last December, while he was on the electoral campaign, the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi – largely re-elected for a second term – declared that “at the slightest skirmish”, he would bring together the two houses of Parliament to ask them to “declare war on Rwanda.”

The East African Community (EAC) deployed troops to eastern DRC in November 2022 at the invitation of that country’s authorities, but Kinshasa refused to extend their mandate, accusing them of having cohabited with the rebels rather than fighting them. The DRC has also requested the withdrawal by the end of this year of the blue helmets of the UN mission (MONUSCO), present on its soil for twenty-five years, also accusing it of its ineffectiveness.

To help it fight the rebellion, Kinshasa is counting in particular on the force of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which began arriving in Goma in mid-December. “The SADC force has indeed arrived, it is with us and its mission is offensive,” Lieutenant General Fall Sikabwe, coordinator of Congolese military operations in North Kivu, said Tuesday in Goma, after a meeting with officers. of the Southern African force called “SAMIDRC”.