UN says Rwanda tanks fired at Congo
By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer Michelle Faul, Associated Press Writer – 38 mins ago
GOMA, Congo – Rwandan forces fired tank shells and other heavy artillery across the border at Congolese troops during fighting last week, the United Nations said Tuesday.
Congo's government had accused Rwanda of actively supporting Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, but the accusation marks the first time the U.N. has publicly said Rwanda was overtly involved in the latest fighting. Rwanda has repeatedly denied its military is involved in the conflict.
U.N. spokeswoman Sylvie van den Wildenberg told The Associated Press in Goma that Uruguayan peacekeepers saw Rwandan tanks and other heavy artillery fire into Congo on Wednesday as Nkunda's forces advanced toward the regional capital, Goma.
On Friday, Gen. Jorge Rosales, chief of Uruguay's army, said rebel troops "have tanks and heavy artillery" from Rwanda and that intelligence reports "indicate there are soldiers from that country integrated in the rebel forces."
Van Wildenberg said U.N. officials had asked the Rwandans about the firing and they denied it.
"But we saw it. We observed it," she said.
Alan Doss, the top U.N. envoy in Congo, said in a videoconference Monday that the "fire had come across the border from Rwanda near the Kibumba (displaced) camp where hostilities were under way."
Kibumba is located on a main road about 17 miles north of Goma. The Rwandan border is visible to the east, amid several volcanoes that straddle the frontier.
"We also had a unit in that area that was trying to stabilize the situation. ... I don't think it lasted any time," he said of the shooting. He said it had been documented when "our reports came in from our military observers on the ground that morning."
Rwanda invaded Congo twice in the late 1990s but initially denied its troops were there both times. Rwanda finally pulled its forces out after a 2002 peace deal ended a war in Congo that drew in half a dozen African nations.
Despite fears of a regional conflict, the fighting in Congo has subsided in recent days.
Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer at U.N. headquarters contributed to this report from New York.