Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels will stop fighting and withdraw from front lines immediately to allow an investigation into shelling that hit neighboring Rwanda, their leader said.
Rwanda accused Congo on Thursday of persistent shelling into its territory and said such “provocation” could no longer be tolerated as tension mounted in Congo’s east where its forces, backed by U.N. peacekeepers, have been battling the rebels.
U.N. peacekeepers in Congo, however, said they had witnessed shelling into Rwanda by the M23 rebels, Reuters reports.
“We have just asked our forces to withdraw from the Kanyaruchinya front line and cease combat so as to allow for an investigation into who was shelling Rwanda,” M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa told French RFI radio.
He gave no timetable for the withdrawal but said the decision would have immediate effect.
Bisimwa said the M-23 would hold onto other positions and he also asked Congo’s government to resume negotiations to end the crisis in the war-torn east of the vast central African state.
A military spokesman for the U.N. mission in Congo (MONUSCO) said there was no fighting along the front on Friday but there were no signs of an M-23 pullback.
“There are mixed signals coming about whether they will withdraw, but we are staying alert. We have not observed any movement of M23 troops indicating a withdrawal,” he said.