Rwanda: December 5, 2004


Reports from the eastern Congo indicate that "larger formations" of Rwandan troops are once again operating inside the Congo. On December 2 the Congolese government  said that 6,000 Rwandan troops had crossed the border and attacked at least one village in the Congo. British sources said that UN observers in the Goma area reported significant Rwandan troop movements. One said that as of December 2, eight Rwandan battalions had lined up at the Rwandan-Congo border. What Rwanda calls a battalion varies in size, usually from 400 to 600 troops. The Rwandan government allegedly informed other African governments that if its troops moved into the Congo the troops would only target Rwandan Hutu rebels and not engage Congolese troops. Rwandan President Paul Kagame later issued an official statement that said military action (in the Congo?) would be "brief." On December 5 several African sources reported that Rwandan troops had attacked 21 villages in the Congo, with the first attacks occurring on November 24. The UN said that Congo civilians had given similar reports to UN peacekeepers. One of the reports said Rwandan soldiers had burned houses in Congo villages suspected of "housing" (supporting) Hutu rebels. Rwanda contends that up to 10,000 Hutu rebels are in the eastern Congo and they are threatening Rwanda. Other estimates put the number of Hutu rebels at 3,000 to 4,000. One has to ask what the Rwandans will do if and when they encounter Interahamwe Hutu rebels operating with Congolese "militias." In early November it was noted that Hutu rebels and Congo militias were operating together near the Congo-Rwandan border. A mix of Hutu rebels and Congo militias could well produce a figure of close to 10,000 (supporting the Rwandan allegation). 




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