Fourteen UN peacekeepers killed in attack in DR Congo

Five Congolese soldiers died following incident in North Kivu province, say officials

A further 53 UN peacekeepers were injured in the attack in North Kivu province. Image: Google Maps

A further 53 UN peacekeepers were injured in the attack in North Kivu province. Image: Google Maps

 

Rebels killed at least 14 UN peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in Congo and UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said on Friday the attack that targeted troops from Tanzania was the worst in recent history.

Mr Guterres said the raid in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo constituted a war crime and he called on Congolese authorities to investigate and “swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice”.

“I want to express my outrage and utter heartbreak at last night’s attack,” Mr Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Three other peacekeepers are missing after a three-hour firefight that broke out at dusk on Thursday evening, said Ian Sinclair, the director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre.

Suspected militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) staged the assault on a base for Congo’s UN mission (Monusco) in the town of Semuliki, the mission said. The ADF is an Islamist rebel group from across the border in Uganda, which has been active in the area.

Monusco said it was co-ordinating a joint response with the Congolese army and evacuating wounded from the base in North Kivu’s Beni territory. Five Congolese soldiers were also killed in the raid, Monusco said in a statement.

Rival militias

Rival militia groups control parts of mineral-rich eastern Congo nearly a decade and a half after the official end of a 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people, most of whom died from hunger and disease. The area has been the scene of repeated massacres and at least 26 people died in an ambush in October.

The government and UN mission have blamed almost all the violence on the ADF but UN experts and independent analysts say other militia and elements of Congo’s army have also been involved.

Increased militia activity in the east and centre of the country and a series of prison breaks have fuelled mounting insecurity in Congo this year amid political tensions linked to President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired last December.

An election to replace Mr Kabila, who has ruled Congo since his father’s assassination in 2001, has been repeatedly delayed and is now scheduled for December 2018.

Established in 2010, Monusco is the United Nations’s largest peacekeeping mission and had recorded 93 fatalities of military, police and civilian personnel.

The death toll for the attack varied. A spokesman for Congo’s army, Mak Hazukay, said only one Congolese soldier was missing after the fighting and one had been injured, adding that 72 militants had been killed.

Mr Guterres said most of the peacekeepers were from Tanzania. Tanzania’s defence minister declined to comment. – Reuters