Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) has requested authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help secure the release of its soliders held by Rwandan rebels operating in Eastern Congo.
According to Rwandan Ministry of Defense, the 2 soldiers were kidnapped while on patrol on the night of 23 May 2022 when the Congolese Army (FARDC) and the Democratic Forces for Libetation of Rwanda (FDLR) fired rockets on Rwandan territory.
In a statement from the ministry of defense dated 28th May 2022, Rwanda says it has been able to locate it’s slodiers Cpl. Nkundabagenzi Elysee and Pte. Ntwari Gad, being held by FDLR in Eastern Congo.
“We call upon autborities of Democratic Republic of Congo that work closely with these genocidal armed groups to secure the release of the RDF soldiers” the statement reads in part.
However, Rwanda’s appeal comes at a time of strained relations between the two countries chacterized with counter-accusations after DRC suspended Rwanda Air flights from Kigali accusing the Rwanda Government of supporting M23 rebels.
“In the view of the Rwanda‘s support for the M23 terrorists, it has been decided to immediately suspend RwandAir flights to our country. The Superior Council of Defence has cautioned the Rwandan government that is disrupting the peace process,” said Patrick Muyaya in a press statement today.
Rwanda Air immediately announced flight suspensions to the cities of Kinshasa, Goma and Lumbubashi.
FDLR is an ethnic Hutu group opposed to the ethnic Tutsi influence and one of the last factions of Rwandan rebels active in the Congo. It was founded through an amalgamation of other groups of Rwandan refugees in September 2000, including the former Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALiR), under the leadership of Paul Rwarakabije.