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Rwandan military officers arrested

They are accused of looting minerals from war-ravaged Congo, but others see signs of a power grab by President Paul Kagame.

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President of Rwanda Paul Kagame speaks during a press conference in the Ugandan capital, Kampala on December 12, 2011 a day after he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for inspiring the young generation in Africa to desire for change and better life. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Rwanda arrested four of its top army officers on charges that they plundered mineral wealth from neighboring Congo, the BBC reported.

Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) twice to chase after rebel groups basing themselves there during the Second Congo War. But others criticized Rwanda for orchestrated looting of Congo’s rich natural resources. Reuters reported that the arrests could be in response to a United Nations report from last month that looked at mineral smuggling links between the DRC and Rwanda.

The U.N. report said Rwanda's recorded level of domestic production of tin, tungsten and tantalum ores was higher than industry analysts believed actual production to be, suggesting material from Congo was being smuggled into Rwanda and then labeled as Rwandan.

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Some have criticized President Paul Kagame for an increasingly authoritarian style of leadership, and several high ranking military officials have sought asylum after making remarks critical of the president. The BBC reported that the arrests could also be an indication that nobody is above the law in Rwanda. The arrested officials are: Lt. Gen. Fred Ibingira, chief of staff of the reserves force; Gen. Richard Rutatina, the head of military intelligence; division commander Gen. Wilson Gumisiriza, and Col. Dan Munyuza, external intelligence chief.

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