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Source: al Jazeera

A gun battle involving heavy weapons has flared between soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwandan forces on their volatile border, local Congolese officials have said.

Wednesday’s fighting began in northeast of the provincial capital Goma after several hours of calm, provincial army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel told the AFP news agency.

Earlier in the day, Rwandan troops crossed the border into DRC’s restive province of North Kivu and abducted a Congolese soldier, the spokesman said.

“Our troops reacted forcefully and the (Rwandans) were sent back,” he said, adding that the situation was now calm but tense. He did not say if there had been any casualties or give details about the fate of the soldier.

No comment was immediately available from the Rwandan government on Wednesday on the reported border incident.

Renewed tensions between the two neighbours may undermine international efforts to bring stability to Congo’s mineral-rich, lawless east and the wider region after years of conflict.

General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, commander of UN peacekeepers in Congo, told a news conference on Wednesday that the fighting had taken place and said the United Nations would investigate the clash.

Kigali and Kinshasa have long been at odds, with Rwanda accused by the UN of backing rebels in DRC.

Rwanda fought against the central government in Kinshasa in Congo’s two wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003 and has been involved in several attempts to destabilise the country, backing uprisings by Tutsi-dominated rebels.

However, since the defeat in November of a Kigali-backed rebellion led by the M23 group, the border has remained relatively calm.

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