Rwanda denies Burundi's accusations of supporting armed rebel group

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. [ AFP]

Rwanda has denied allegations by Burundi’s President that it is backing a Burundian rebel group responsible for a deadly attack at a border village.

In a statement on Saturday, December 30, the Rwandan Government said it has no association with any Burundian armed group and urged Burundi to address its concerns through diplomatic channels.

The statement came after Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of funding and training the RED-Tabara rebels, who claimed to have killed 10 security personnel in an attack on Gatumba village last week.

Ndayishimiye alleged that Rwanda has been harboring the rebels for two years and refused to extradite them.

“Rwanda is not associated, in any way, with any Burundian armed group,” the Rwandan government said.  

“It should be recalled that, in the spirit of mutual cooperation, Rwanda has previously handed over, through the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, Burundian combatants who illegally crossed into Rwanda.”

The relations between the two neighboring countries have been tense for years, with both sides accusing each other of meddling in their internal affairs.

RED-Tabara group, which is based in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is one of several armed factions that oppose Ndayishimiye’s ruling party. 

The group has denied targeting civilians in the Gatumba attack and said it was a response to the repression and violence in Burundi.