UN launches probe in the killing of 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers in DRC

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The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has said it will investigate new allegations relating to clashes between peacekeepers and Congolese military in the east of the country.

At least 15 peacekeepers, all from Tanzania, were killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by militant extremists on December 7th, 2017.

It was the deadliest assault on the organization’s peacekeeping forces in nearly a quarter century.

Five Congolese soldiers also died and at least 40 other people were injured when the militants attacked a United Nations base in the North Kivu region on Thursday evening, the organization said in a statement from its mission in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital.

United Nations peacekeeping officials attributed the attack to a militant group known as the Allied Democratic Forces, which has its origins in neighboring Uganda and is accused of killing hundreds of people over the past three years.

The inquiry will be carried out after a UN Security Council report found that two Tanzanian peacekeepers who were killed in a May ambush in Beni territory, North Kivu, were shot by Congolese soldiers and not by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces, as the peacekeeping mission had first reported, a UN official said.

“Our investigation showed that it was the ADF that attacked our troops,” Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the UN’s mission in Congo, known as Monusco, told reporters Saturday, in the capital, Kinshasa. “Now there are new allegations and we will lead a more in-depth inquiry.”

The UN currently has about 20,000 military personnel in the Congo, the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper and tin producer.

The majority are stationed in the east of the country, where dozens of armed groups remain active more than a decade after the end of Congo’s civil war in 2003. The ADF, a Uganda-based insurgent group, has operated along Congo’s border since the late 1990s.

The Security Council report, which was published on a New York-based blog, Inner City Press, accused the Congolese army of firing on the peacekeepers after “they had been told by two civilians that the Tanzanians were providing supplies to the ADF.”

The UN Group of Experts that authored the report wrote that it was “not in a position to explain why” the Tanzanian peacekeepers were meeting with the rebels.

The Ugandan government has sought to link the group Al Qaeda and the Shabab, the Islamic militants that have terrorized Somalia. But while the Allied Democratic Forces are mostly Muslim, United Nations peacekeeping officials said, the group does not appear to be driven by religous extremist ideology but more by profit.

Its members prey on the mining industry in North Kivu through extortion and other gangster-like behavior.

Maman Sidikou, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kinshasa, said the fighters had attacked the mission’s operating base in the Beni territory, near the Uganda border.

In January, the UN mission reached an agreement to restart joint military operations with Congo’s army against one of the largest remaining rebel groups in the region, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.


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