UN Peacekeepers killed in Congo

A joint military operation by the army of Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations peacekeeping force was dealt a deadly blow when seven UN peacekeepers were killed in the eastern part of the country.

Background

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is an Islamist-rooted group that rose in western Uganda in 1995, led by Jamil Mukulu, a Christian turned Muslim.

Forced out of Uganda, it operates in the border area in the DRC’s North Kivu province.

The ADF has been blamed for recruiting and using child soldiers, killing hundreds of civilians since 2014, as well as 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers, who died in an attack in December 2017.

Analysis

Ten other peacekeeping troops were wounded, and another is missing, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. He added that the dead included six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania.

Several Congolese were also killed or wounded in the joint operation, he said.

The deaths mark the biggest loss by the large UN force in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the rebels killed 15 troops nearly a year ago.

General Bernard Commins, deputy head of the MONUSCO force, said a joint operation had been launched with DRC troops on Tuesday against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a jihadi group blamed for bloody attacks on civilians.

The offensive aimed at Kididiwe, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Beni, a city of between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants, said Commins. He also described Kididiwe as a “major stronghold” of the ADF.

The region is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has left more than 200 dead. Insecurity is hampering efforts to contain the disease, the UN spokesman said.

Assessment

Our assessment is that DRC is facing two major threats: the ADF and a growing Ebola outbreak, both of which can heavily disrupt local economies and the Congolese society. We believe that DRC needs more external support in order to quell the rising Ebola outbreak.