Rwanda denies M23 child soldier claims as 'ludicrous'

M23 rebels walking through hills in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. File photo
Image caption M23 fighters launched a rebellion last May, forcing 800,000 from their homes

Rwanda has strongly rejected allegations that it is helping train child soldiers for rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Speaking to the BBC, Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo described such claims as "ludicrous".

The US has recently withdrawn military aid to Rwanda, saying it is backing the M23 rebels, believed to recruit minors.

The M23 rebellion has forced tens of thousands from their homes in the eastern DR Congo.

"The idea that Rwanda is associated with child soldiers is just ludicrous," Ms Mushikiwabo told the BBC's Newsday programme.

"We have worked with a number of UN agencies... to basically make sure that children don't belong in the army".

The US has had close military ties with Rwanda since President Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) came to power after the end of the 1994 genocide.

Rwanda has been accused of backing the M23, which is led by ethnic Tutsis.

Rwanda has twice invaded DR Congo, which says it wants to stop ethnic Hutu rebel groups based there from attacking its territory.

President Kagame, a Tutsi, led the RPF when it ended the genocide in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.

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