DR CONGO has declared Rwanda’s shooting of one of its fighter jets an “act of war”, amid mounting tensions.
Rwanda’s government said it took “defensive measures” against a plane that had violated its airspace – a claim denied by DR Congo.
Although the plane landed safely, this is a major escalation following months of conflict in DR Congo, which has forced 400,000 people from their homes.
DR Congo, the US and UN experts accuse Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group.
Rwanda has denied this and blames the Congolese government for the unrest in mineral-rich eastern DR Congo.
In the 1990s, Rwanda twice sent troops into its much larger neighbour, sparking a huge conflict involving at least nine countries that led to the death of millions of people.
Images shared on social media show a Sukhoi-25 aircraft being shot at while flying at low altitude between the towns of Goma in DR Congo and Gisenyi in Rwanda, which straddle their common border.
Other images show water being used to put out a fire on the plane’s right wing after it landed at Goma airport. DR Congo says the plane suffered no “major material damage”.
In a statement, DR Congo’s government accused Rwanda of “sabotaging” the implementation of a recent peace process agreed upon by the opposing sides in recent talks.
The Information Ministry went on to say that DR Congo “reserves the right to defend its national territory and will not be threatened”.
“The government considers this umpteenth attack by Rwanda as a deliberate action,” the ministry said.