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Rwanda Accused of Drone Attack on Goma Airport, DRC: Escalating Tensions Heighten Regional Concerns

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has accused Rwanda of conducting a drone attack that targeted Goma airport, a critical transportation hub in the eastern city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province. The attack, which damaged a civilian aircraft, comes amid escalating violence between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces near the town of Sake, located just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Goma.

Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike Kaito, army spokesperson for North Kivu province, confirmed the incident, stating that the drone attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning and originated from Rwandan territory, violating the DRC’s territorial integrity. While military aircraft were not affected, a civilian aircraft sustained damage in the attack.

Despite the allegations, the Rwandan government has yet to respond to the accusations leveled by the DRC.

Residents of Goma reported hearing two loud explosions around the time of the attack, further corroborating the incident. However, airport sources indicated that both national and international air traffic remained unaffected despite the reported explosions.

Alain Uaykani, reporting for Al Jazeera from Goma, highlighted the significance of the drone attack, suggesting that it showcases the M23 rebels’ capability to execute sophisticated attacks beyond the expectations of the Congolese government. The rebels have been accused by the DRC, the United Nations, and Western countries of receiving support from Rwanda in their bid to control lucrative mineral resources, allegations consistently denied by Kigali.

The recent fighting has prompted tens of thousands of civilians to flee neighboring towns towards Goma, exacerbating an already volatile security situation in the region. The conflict has expanded to previously unaffected territories, including Kashuga village in the Rutshuru territory, bordering Walikale, a significant area for international mining activities.

With diplomatic efforts failing to quell the violence, the 37th African Union summit in Addis Ababa is expected to address the ongoing conflict in the DRC, underscoring the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions threatening regional stability.

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