DR Congo: Over a dozen UN peacekeepers killed in worst attack on ‘blue helmets’ in recent history | World Defense

DR Congo: Over a dozen UN peacekeepers killed in worst attack on ‘blue helmets’ in recent history

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DR Congo: Over a dozen UN peacekeepers killed in worst attack on ‘blue helmets’ in recent history

12-08-2017-MONUSCO_file.jpg

In this photo from 2014, a MONUSCO peacekeeper stands near the wreckage of a Nepalese armored vehicle which was hit the previous year in an ambush from ADF militia in the Beni region. Photo: MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti


08 December 2017 – At least 15 United Nations ‘blue helmets’ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been killed and many more injured, in what the Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres described as the “worst attack” on UN peacekeepers in recent history.

Late Thursday, a MONUSCO (the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC) Company Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements, resulting in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.
These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime” said Secretary-General António Guterres, adding: “I condemn this attack unequivocally.”

Further, calling on the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, the UN chief stressed: “There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else.”

In his remarks, he also said that the attack is another indication of the challenges faced by UN peacekeeping operations around the world and acknowledged the sacrifices made by troop contributing countries in the service of global peace.
“These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians,” he noted, offering condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and a speedy recovery to those injured.

All of the peacekeeping troops killed in the brutal attack which reportedly lasted some three hours were from Tanzania. In addition, three members of the contingent are reported to be missing in action.

According to Ian Sinclair, the Director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC), initial figures indicate that 53 peacekeepers been injured, of whom three critically, but the numbers could rise.

VIDEO: Director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre, Ian Sinclair, describes the attack as the worst on UN peacekeepers in recent history.

Members of the FARDC have also been killed and injured in the attack but numbers are yet to be confirmed, Mr. Sinclair told reporters at a news briefing at the UN Headquarters, in New York.
“Our reinforcements have arrived on the scene and a search is ongoing for the missing soldiers,” he said, noted that the wounded have been evacuated from the area, among whom some have been further evacuated to more advanced medical facilities in Goma, DRC.

“Further medical evacuation is possible for seriously injured,” he added.

Also today, in a strongly worded statement, the UN Security Council condemned the attack.
“There can be no impunity for such acts,” stressed the 15-member Council, calling upon the Government of the DRC to ensure that the perpetrators of such attacks are swiftly brought to justice.

In the statement, the Security Council also reiterated their full support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC and to MONUSCO to fully implement their mandate.

The volatile North Kivu region, located in eastern DRC, has witnessed a number of attacks on UN peacekeeping forces. In October, two UN ‘blue helmets’ were killed and another 18 were injured their base was attacked by the ADF armed group.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58250#.WivMPlWWbIU
 

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At least 15 U.N. peacekeepers killed in attack in Congo
By Kevin Sieff
December 08, 2017

NAIROBI — At least 15 United Nations peacekeepers were killed and dozens wounded in eastern Congo in one of the deadliest attacks on the international forces in years, U.N. officials reported Friday.

Heavily armed rebel fighters attacked a forward operating base in a remote part of North Kivu province Thursday night, firing rocket-propelled grenades and destroying at least one armored personnel carrier, U.N. officials said. The firefight went on for at least three hours, and the majority of those killed and injured were from Tanzania, they said.
“This is the worst attack on U.N. peacekeepers in the organization’s recent history,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement. He called the assault “a war crime” and demanded that authorities in Congo — also known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo — bring the perpetrators to justice.

U.N. officials said 53 peacekeepers also were wounded in the attack, and at least five members of Congo’s military were killed.
The death toll appeared to be the highest for U.N. peacekeepers in a single incident since 1993, when 23 “blue helmets” were slain in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known by the acronym MONUSCO, is the largest and most expensive in the world, with roughly 19,000 peacekeepers. It has a rare mandate to pursue offensive operations against armed groups, which has resulted in some military victories but also has turned peacekeepers into frequent rebel targets.
[The world’s deadliest U.N. mission]

U.N. officials said they suspected that a rebel group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was behind the attack. In the past, the United Nations has said the group has “committed serious violations of international law.”
“Our sense is that given the location and given what’s happened in recent months, it was most likely the ADF,” said a senior U.N. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as he was not permitted to share details of the attack publicly.

The ADF is responsible for at least two other high-profile attacks on the peacekeeping force deployed in the country, one in July 2013 and another seven months later, according to a U.N. fact sheet. Since the mid-1990s, it has operated primarily in the mountains marking Congo’s border with Uganda. The U.N.’s most recent head count indicated the ADF had around 1,500 fighters.

Various rebel groups and militias have battled for years in mineral-rich eastern Congo. In recent months, violence has spiked with clashes involving rebels and security forces as well as inter-communal fighting. Analysts say there are 30 to 60 armed groups in eastern Congo. The bloodshed has left hundreds dead and prompted a new wave of refugees to flee the country.

Meanwhile, in Congo’s central province of Kasai, a humanitarian disaster is unfolding after months of clashes between local militias and security forces. The Catholic Church estimated in June that more than 3,000 people in the region had been killed since the outbreak of fighting the previous October. Earlier this year, two U.N. human rights investigators, including American Michael Sharp, were killed by militants in the province.

More than 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes in Congo this year because of insecurity, according to the United Nations.
“It’s a mega-crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director in Congo, said in a report this week.

In 2013, U.N. peacekeepers helped weaken the largest armed group in eastern Congo, called the March 23 Movement, or M23, but an array of other militias continue to operate with relative impunity across the area, including the ADF.

The U.N. mission in Congo includes troops known as the Force Intervention Brigade, which frequently targets armed rebels.
“The mission has a mandate to take offensive action against armed groups, particularly the Force Intervention Brigade, and they were the ones who were attacked. These are units going after the armed groups directly,” said the senior U.N. official.

More than 300 U.N. personnel have been killed in Congo since 2001, according to U.N. records.

U.S. security assistance to Congo has focused on peacekeeping, which makes up the bulk of the $162 million in American aid spent there since 2010. The U.S. government also has invested significant resources to train and advise Congo’s military and to support counternarcotics and counterterrorism initiatives.

There were 410 U.S. troops in Congo and surrounding nations in central Africa this summer, according to a June disclosure by the White House. A spokesman for U.S. Africa Command said Friday there are fewer than 10 Defense Department personnel there, mostly at the embassy in Kinshasa.

Alex Horton, Andrew deGrandpre and Anne Gearan in Washington contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/at-least-14-un-peacekeepers-killed-in-attack-in-congo/2017/12/08/614d69ca-dc2a-11e7-a241-0848315642d0_story.html?utm_term=.9e6bceec1b5a
 

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