/ 13 March 2009

Rwanda Hutu rebels claim gains in DRC

Rwanda’s Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) claimed on Friday they had inflicted heavy losses on the forces involved in the joint operation launched against them by Kinshasa and Kigali.

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) said that ”heavy fighting has opposed and continues to oppose the coalition” to its troops, in a statement received by AFP in Nairobi.

The FDLR listed three separate incidents on March 8 to March 9 during which it claimed Rwandan and Congolese government forces lost more than 120 troops.

The statement also implied that the Rwandan troops who entered the DRC on January 20 to raid FDLR positions were still operating on Congolese territory despite the official announcement of their pullout on February 26.

FDLR rebels have been operating out of eastern DRC since the aftermath of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide by Hutus against the Tutsi minority.

Some of its members are accused of being among the main perpetrators of the massacres.

Until the January joint operation, the Tutsi-led government in Kigali which came to power after the genocide had long accused Kinshasa of sheltering the FDLR and even using it as proxies in the eastern Kivu region. — Sapa-AFP