Musanze, 18 February 2018
Following a request by Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), the regional Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) has started investigations into the violation of Rwanda's territorial integrity by the FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo – Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo).
On Tuesday 13 February 2018, at around 7am FARDC troops violated Rwanda’s territory and subsequently attacked an RDF defensive position at Mutara, in Terimbere village, Mugari cell, Shingiro Sector, Musanze District, located 1.5 Km inside Rwanda from the border with DRC.
A team of ten senior officers from EJVM, led by Col Theophile Maviondo from Congo -Brazzaville, arrived in Rwanda on 15 February 2018 and were immediately briefed on this incident and the general security situation along the Rwanda-DRC border in the Virungas.
“The only threat that we were expecting in this area was the FDLR that maintains their positions in DRC and threaten our security and that of region in general, but we were very surprised to see that those who attacked our position were FARDC soldiers. They violated Rwandan territory and attacked a well-known RDF defensive position that has been established in the area for over five years”, said Brig Gen Eugene Nkubito, 2nd Division Commander, during the briefing.
When asked about the current security situation in the area, he reassured that the situation had returned to normal immediately after the incident.
Following RDF’s recommendation, the EJVM investigating team visited the site of the incident where the RDF Infantry Company has its defensive position and were provided key facts such as GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates that clearly indicate the position in Rwanda; location of the dead FARDC soldiers within the defensive position also in Rwanda; as well as weapons, ammunitions and other military equipment that were left behind by the attacking FARDC force. They were also shown bomb, rocket and bullet impacts inside the RDF position and fragments of rockets used in the attack.
In a humanitarian move, RDF requested EJVM to convince the FARDC side to accept the bodies of the dead FARDC soldiers while the investigation is going on. Subsequently, a ceremony took place on Saturday 17 February 2018 at around 4pm, where the RDF officially handed over the remains of the three FARDC soldiers and military equipment to the FARDC, in the presence of the EJVM at Rubavu border Post known as ‘Grande Barrière.