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August 31, 2013

DR Congo’s government said on Friday it will protect its population against any military attack by the Rwandan army on its territory.

Government spokesman and Minister of Information Lambert Mende noted that “Rwandan authorities have increasingly threatened in recent days to go to war against the Democratic Republic of Congo in retaliation of alleged bombings by the Congolese Armed Forces”, known as FARDC, of the Rwandan territory.

The Congolese government, Mr. Mende said, will take its “responsibility to protect the Congolese people.”

UN officials said on Thursday that shells that fell into Rwanda came from areas occupied by the M23 rebels, not the Congolese army, disputing claims made by Rwandan officials.

“13 civilians have been killed in Goma and surrounding areas since the extremists in Rwanda and their cronies of the M23 began targeting the martyrized capital of North Kivu. The last of these victims is a 16-year-old boy whose body was torn and scattered across the room,” Mr. Mende said.

He said that the Congolese government deplores the “indifference” of Rwandan authorities “in front of the suffering that the people of Goma are enduring because of the [Rwandan] cronies of the M23.”

The Congolese army announced on Friday that, after days of fighting and with the help of the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, they had dislodged the M23 rebels from strategic hills in Kibati that the rebels were using to shell civilian areas in Goma.

Mr. Mende said that the Congolese government “honors the brave young men of the FARDC, who have paid the price in blood for their country.”

“We also honor our brother, the Tanzanian peacekeeper who was killed by the outlaws while exercising his mandate. DR Congo’s government appreciates to the highest degree the solidarity shown by the SADC and especially by South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, who have contributed troops to the [UN] intervention brigade,” Mr. Mende said.