Africa Union chief Macky Sall called for dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda as tensions escalate between the two countries over a resurgence of the M23 rebel group.

More than 120 armed groups roam volatile eastern DRC, many of which are a legacy of regional wars more than two decades ago.
More than 120 armed groups roam volatile eastern DRC, many of which are a legacy of regional wars more than two decades ago. (AFP)

African Union chairman Macky Sall has said that he is "gravely concerned" by tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as he has appealed for calm and dialogue.

"I am gravely concerned about the rise in tension between Rwanda and the DRC", Sall, the Senegalese president who currently chairs the AU, tweeted on Sunday.

"I appeal to the two countries for calm and dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the crisis."

Rwanda said on Saturday that two of its soldiers were being held captive by rebels in DR Congo, and accused government authorities of backing the group responsible.

The development came as a diplomatic feud between the two neighbours escalates, with both sides accusing each other of aiding armed militias in the volatile eastern DRC region that borders Rwanda.

READ MORE: ADF rebels kill tens in DR Congo ⁠— rights group

Rising tensions

On Saturday, RwandAir announced it was cancelling flights to DRC, after Congolese authorities suspended the carrier and summoned Kigali's ambassador over what it alleges is Rwanda's support for M23 rebels.

The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) later said two soldiers had been kidnapped on patrol and were being held by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda(FDLR), another rebel group active in eastern DRC.

The RDF then appealed to the DRC authorities to work for the release of the soldiers who it said were abducted after an attack earlier in the week along the border by Congolese forces and FDLR rebels.

Kigali had already called for an "urgent investigation" into that incident, which it said involved Congolese forces shelling Rwandan territory and injuring civilians.

More than 120 armed groups roam volatile eastern DRC, many of which are a legacy of regional wars more than two decades ago.

Relations had begun to thaw after DRC President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited tensions.

The United Nations said on Friday the fresh clashes had displaced 72,000 people, and warned that those on the run faced constant violence and the looting of their homes.

READ MORE: UN: Clashes in Democratic Republic of Congo displace 72,000 people

Source: AFP