]Democratic Republic of Congo’s army said it killed Sylvestre Mudacumura, commander of a Rwandan Hutu militia wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Mudacumura was a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) since it was founded in 2000 by Hutu officials who fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.
The FDLR waged periodic war with the Congolese government and rival militias. The Rwanda government cited its presence on Congolese soil to justify repeated cross border interventions.
“Sylvestre Mudacumura was neutralised by the armed forces of Congo along with elements accompanying him in Rutshuru territory,” army spokesman Richard Kasonga told Reuters.
Mudacumura’s death is the latest blow to the FDLR, weakened by the arrests of several leaders and military pressure from Congo’s armed forces, the FARDC, and other militias.
Rwandan foreign affairs ministry official Olivier Nduhungirehe told Reuters he did not have confirmation Mudacumura’s killing, but it was good news for peace and security in the region.
“FDLR is a genocidal movement destabilising the region for the past 25 years and we noticed a renewed commitment and decisive action by the FARDC to neutralise it,” Nduhungirehe said.
The international court issued an arrest warrant for Mudacumura in 2012 for alleged attacks against civilians, murder, rape and torture in eastern Congo, where militia members operated since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Prosecutors accused Mudacumura, believed to be about 65 years old, of orchestrating attacks on civilians during a 2009-10 conflict against the Congolese and Rwandan armies.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch said FDLR fighters killed over 700 civilians to intimidate communities not to co-operate with the army.
In Rwanda, Mudacumura served as deputy commander of the presidential guard, where he was in charge of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s security. During the genocide, he led a battalion in northern Rwanda.
Kasonga hoped Mudacumura’s death would encourage hold-out members of the FDLR, either still fighting in the bush or temporarily settled in government-run camps in Congo, to accept repatriation to Rwanda.
Thousands of former FDLR members and their families returned to Rwanda, but many refused. International efforts to find a third country to resettle them have so far been unsuccessful.
The FDLR is a source of friction between Rwanda and Uganda. Rwanda accused Uganda in March of supporting the FDLR and another Congo-based rebel group opposed to the Rwandan government. Uganda denied the allegations.