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Rwanda army fired SAM missile in east DR Congo

Congolese M23 rebels secure locations in Kibumba, near Goma, North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. — Reuters file photo
Congolese M23 rebels secure locations in Kibumba, near Goma, North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. — Reuters file photo
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GOMA: Elements of Rwanda's army supporting M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo have launched at least one surface-to-air missile, according to an internal UN document seen on Monday.


A "suspected Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) mobile Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM)" was fired at a UN observation drone last Wednesday without hitting it, the confidential report said.


"External military intelligence from France supports assessment that the suspected WZ551 6×6 IFV mobile SAM system is Rwandan," it added.


Attached to the report are two aerial images in which a six-wheeled armoured vehicle is visible with a radar and missile launcher system on the roof.


The photos were taken by the targeted drone about 70 kilometres north of the city of Goma, in rebel-held Rutshuru territory.


The UN's MONUSCO peacekeeping mission says in the document it has "no past reporting of known armed groups possessing the training, capital or resources to operate and maintain a mobile SAM system".


Neither the United Nations nor the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo have so far commented on the incident.


Clashes have intensified recently between the M23 -- among the strongest of dozens of armed groups roaming the country's troubled east -- and the Congolese army.


The escalating fighting has pushed thousands of civilians to flee the town of Sake, a strategic location on the route towards Goma, capital of North Kivu province.


Clashes have intensified recently between the M23 -- among the strongest of dozens of armed groups roaming the country's troubled east -- and the Congolese army.


The escalating fighting has pushed thousands of civilians to flee the town of Sake, a strategic location on the route towards Goma, capital of North Kivu province.


The International Committee of the Red Cross said the Goma hospital it supports received on Wednesday alone 58 patients wounded by firearms, including 31 civilians.


On Friday, an AFP reporter saw dozens of soldiers and other wounded armed men in a Goma hospital where all the beds were occupied.


The M23 has seized vast swathes of North Kivu since emerging from dormancy in late 2021, in an area wracked by violence for decades following regional wars in the 1990s.


The DRC, the United Nations and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting the rebels, an allegation Kigali denies. — AFP


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