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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Congolese army attack U.N. troops meeting with Islamist rebels

Congolese troops killed two United Nations peacekeepers after civilians accused the Tanzanian U.N. troops of providing supplies to Islamist Ugandan rebels in east Congo, according to a confidential U.N. Security Council report.

U.N. experts who monitor sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo said the U.N. peacekeeping force MONUSCO initially blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Ugandan rebels operating in Congo since the 1990s, for a May 5 ambush that killed two peacekeepers and several civilians and injured 26 U.N. troops.

But the group of experts said it was not an ambush and that Congolese troops (FARDC) fired at peacekeepers near the Mayi Moya town in Beni after “they had been told by two civilians that the Tanzanians were providing supplies to the ADF.” 

The experts wrote in a report, seen by Reuters this week, that the Tanzanian troops had met the ADF but the group is “not in a position to explain why.” 

Tanzania’s defense minister, Hussein Mwinyi, told Reuters he had not seen the U.N. report and therefore could not immediately comment. MONUSCO spokesman Felix Basse said he was unaware of the U.N. experts’ report and declined immediate comment, while the FARDC spokesman General Leon Kasonga said he did not have any information about the incident.

More than a decade after the formal end to regional conflicts in eastern Congo that killed millions of people, most from hunger and disease, dozens of armed groups are still exploiting its natural resources and attacking local people. 

The U.N. experts report casts doubt on a near blanket attribution of recent attacks near Beni on the ADF. The Congolese government and United Nations have blamed the ADF for murdering hundreds of civilians near Beni since 2014. They estimate the group’s size to be a few hundred fighters.

Independent analysts have pointed to mounting evidence that other armed groups are responsible for at least some of the attacks. Local residents have accused the Congolese army and peacekeeping units of complicity with the ADF, charges both forces deny. 

The U.N. experts are also investigating a Nov. 29 attack, which they believe was carried out by the ADF in collaboration with another armed group, on the town of Eringeti, during which one Malawian peacekeeper and several civilians were killed. 

“The group obtained information that the commander of the FARDC in Eringeti was aware that an attack on the town was going to take place,” wrote the U.N. experts, adding that a Congolese military prosecutor has opened a case against the commander.

 

– REUTERS

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