A total of seven United Nations peacekeepers were on Thursday killed by Allied Democratic Forces rebels in Beni, in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A statement by the UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric in the New York said six of the dead were from Malawi whereas one was Tanzanian.
“The Secretary-General condemns the killing of six Malawian and one Tanzanian peacekeepers of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in Beni territory, North Kivu,” said the statement.
The UN peacekeepers are said to have been killed during joint operations carried out by MONUSCO and the Congolese army (FARDC) against ADF rebels.
A number of soldiers from the Congolese army and ADF rebel fighters are also said to have been killed whereas others were wounded during the offensive.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the families of the killed peacekeepers and the Governments and people of the Republic of Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania. He wishes a prompt recovery to the wounded and conveys his strong support to the Malawian and Tanzanian contingents, which continue to operate in an exceptionally difficult environment to protect local populations against the attacks of the ADF and other armed groups.”
According to Gen. Bernard Commins, the deputy head of the MONUSCO force, together with FARDC, they launched an offensive at Kididiwe, about 20 kilometres from Beni city.
It is said that Kididiwe was being used by the ADF rebels to launch attacks on Beni attacks prompting the UN forces to launch offensives against them.
This is the second biggest loss to the UN peacekeepers by the ADF rebels after an attack last year that killed that killed over 15 Tanzanian United Nations peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in a raid on their base in the North Kivu province of DRC.
North Kivu borders other provinces including Ituri to the north and South Kivu to the South and has been a battle ground for a number of rival armed ethnic groups since 1998.
The province consists of three cities including; Goma, Butembo and Beni as well as six territories including Beni, Lubero, Masisi, Rutshuru.
The Ugandan army last year launched offensives against the ADF rebels and in the end, a number of them were killed and their bases burnt.
Brig.Richard Karemire, the UPDF spokesperson recently said the burden of eliminating the rebel outfit which was also declared a terrorist group rests on the Kinshasa government but noted that the Ugandan army would not hesitate to reiterate in case Uganda is attacked.
“If these terrorists attacked Uganda, we would not hesitate to exercise the right to hot pursuit. UPDF will continue to protect our border against infiltration. However, it is also high time that parties under the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region honor their commitments to make the Kasese Centre operational. The ADF remains a threat to regional peace and stability,” Brig.Karemire said last year.
Allied Democratic Forces
Started in 1996, the group was formed out of remnants of the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) and Jamilu Mukulu was the group’s leader until a few years ago when he was captured by the Tanzanian forces before he was repatriated back to Uganda where he is currently detained.
The UPDF spokesperson Brig.Richard Karemire recently said the ADF rebels who have still remained active are estimated between 700- 900 fighters.