UN peacekeeper killed in eastern DR Congo
A United Nations peacekeeper has been killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN and Congolese officials said on Saturday, in the latest violence to hit the conflict-torn region.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, stated that suspected members of the Twirwaneho militia conducted the attack on Friday night in the Minembwe area of South Kivu province.
“A peacekeeper was killed by armed men who approached the base after having contacted MONUSCO for a surrender,” MONUSCO said.
“Attacks against peacekeepers may constitute a war crime,” it added, calling on Congolese authorities to hold the perpetrators responsible.
The Twirwaneho militia is one of over 120 armed groups in volatile eastern DRC. It claims to represent the interests of the Banyamulenge, a Congolese Tutsi community.
A Congolese army spokesman in the Minembwe area, Lieutenant Jeremie Meya, also said that Twirwaneho militiamen had killed the UN peacekeeper under the “ruse” of turning themselves in.
“These thugs shot the victim at close range and (he) died on the spot, they fled after this crime and disappeared,” Meya said.
Kibibi Saint Cadet, the head of a civil-society group in Minembwe, told AFP that the UN peacekeeper who had been killed was Pakistani.
MONUSCO was unable to immediately confirm the nationality of the slain peacekeeper, however.
The attack comes after deadly anti-UN protests shook eastern DRC in July. Thirty-two demonstrators and four UN troops died over the course the week-long unrest, according to a Congolese toll, and UN bases were ransacked.
Many Congolese are frustrated by MONUSCO’s perceived ineffectiveness in the face of persistent violence.
The UN first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999.
It became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO — the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.
It currently has about 16,000 uniformed personnel.