At least 14 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers of Tanzanian nationality were killed and about 50 were wounded late last week in the restive North Kivu Province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), local media reports and news agencies said.
Two peacekeepers remain missing and at least five Congolese soldiers also died in the attack, which occurred on the Mbau-Kamango axis (about 25 miles or 40 kilometers) from the city of Beni, reports added.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and colleagues of MONUSCO,”Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN deputy secretary-general in charge of operations and maintenance of peace tweeted. MONUSCO, a costly bunch of 19 000 armymen, is the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC.
The attack is believed to have launched by Uganda-based ADF rebels.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described the attack as ‘a war crime’. “Today is a very tragic day for the UN family,” he said.
Howeverm the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force said the deadly attack would not be shaken and will continue fighting on.
“The December 7-8 attack is the worst we’ve seen since our forces have been involved in peacekeeping operations here in 2011, and we’ve lost a lot,” General James Mwakibolwa told the media on Sunday at a press conference in the capital Dar es Salaam.
“Despite all this, our forces on the ground are still more willing to fight the enemy and accomplish their mission with great technicality and professionalism,” he added.
The DRC, a vast and mineral-rich Central African nation has been torn apart in a vicious armed conflict many in the past 20 years. Many experts believe the war, which killed over 8 million people and displaced about 10 million, is being fought mainly for the control of economic resources.
More than 50 armed groups (armed and funded by Rwanda and Uganda) and pro-government militias are believed to be operating in the eastern DRC, the UN said. The country has been experiencing a major political and economic crisis due to the refusal of President Joseph Kabila to step down in December 2016 when his constitutional two-term in office.