(Bloomberg) -- Rwanda’s defense force shot at a Democratic Republic of Congo fighter jet that allegedly violated its airspace, as tensions between the neighboring countries escalate.
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It’s the third time a Congolese military aircraft entered Rwandan airspace in recent months, the office of the spokesperson of Rwanda’s government said in a statement. Congo denied the plane entered Rwanda, according to a statement on Twitter.
Rwanda took “defensive measures” against the Sukhoi-25 jet, it said. “Rwanda asks the Democratic Republic of Congo to stop this aggression.”
Relations between the two nations are being strained by conflict in eastern Congo, where the army is fighting the M23 rebel group that Congo says is backed by Rwanda — an allegation the Rwandan government denies. The violence has displaced 450,000 people.
Congo’s mineral-rich east — adjoining Rwanda — has been beset by conflict since the mid-1990s, when the aftermath of a civil war and genocide in Rwanda spread over the border, enveloping more than a half-dozen African nations. Despite a 2003 peace agreement, fighting persists, with about 100 armed groups active in the region.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday declined to attend a meeting in Qatar with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, to discuss the conflict, the United Nations-backed Radio Okapi reported.
The attack on the jet caused minor damage, Congo’s government said.
“The government considers this umpteenth attack by Rwanda as a deliberate act of aggression that is equivalent to an act of war,” it said. Congo “does not intend to let it stand” and warned that continued attacks by Rwanda and the M23 may affect voter-registration efforts as the nation prepares for presidential elections scheduled for December.
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