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DR Congo: US accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebel group

In this Aug. 10, 2006, file photo, the State Department sign used as a backdrop at the State Department in Washington.   -  
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Charles Dharapak/AP2006

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The United States has accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, prompting a backlash from Kigali.

In a statement on Saturday, U.S. State Department condemned the worsening violence and called on M23 to cease hostilities immediately and withdraw from its current positions around Sake and Goma.

It called on Rwanda to immediately withdraw all of its military personnel from the DRC and remove its surface-to-air missile systems.

The comments have provoked a backlash from Kigali, with the foreign affairs ministry saying that the US statement distorts the reality and that Rwanda reserves the right to self-defence against the DRC's actions in the area, which it claims threaten Rwandan security.

Kigali also expressed "deep concern" over what it terms the abandonment of the regional peace processes" and said that the international community is indifferent to DRC's “dramatic military build-up”.

It comes amidst an escalation of violence in eastern DRC in recent weeks, with clashes between the M23 rebels, army forces and self-defence groups that support them. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee, many of them now in Goma, as M23 advances on the city.

Last week, South Africa said it would send a contingent of 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to a force deployed by southern African regional bloc SADC to help Congo fight rebel groups.

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