MONUSCO mounts successful op against Codeco militia checkpoints

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Intelligence, boosted by surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), saw MONUSCO peacekeepers identify and destroy at least eight Codeco militia checkpoints in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This was part of Operation Tiger Paw, launched in mid-May with a senior Bangladeshi military officer in the DRC in command, after what the United Nations (UN) mission in the troubled central African country said was “meticulous planning” involving FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo), local authorities in Ituri’s Djugu, and residents.

Troop from Bangladesh and Nepal were drafted into the MONUSCO detachment for Tiger Paw. The operation’s aim was to identify and destroy Codeco (Co-operative for Development of the Congo) checkpoints. With these no longer a factor, “an important axis” connecting a number of villages was opened up, MONUSCO’s Lydie Betyna reported.

Starting on 21 May, FARDC personnel co-ordinating with MONUSCO peacekeepers executed extended joint patrols in and around Ivo Djugu, Lenga, Gali, Plateau Savo, Lida, Jippi and Pimbo. Arr village, identified as an insecurity epicentre, was “subjected to particular attention” for the patrols tasked to map the area ahead of intervention.

A day later four Congolese soldiers from Masumbuko Regiment joined the patrol and launched, from Drodro base, an offensive to secure an axis along the Drodro/Masumbuko/Uzi Hill/Tchoru and Pitso line. The operation cleared the axis route of armed groups.

The first illegal checkpoint was identified at Uzi Hill, destroyed after a cordon and search operation.

After the Uzi Hill clearing the patrol found and destroyed a second and third checkpoint manned by Codeco militiamen, who opened fire before the blue helmets responded with mortar fire.

Having cleared the area of threat the patrol headed for Tchoru, then on to Pitso, where it was joined by a Nepalese patrol.

Between the two villages another five unmanned Codeco checkpoints were destroyed.

The UN mission is expected to completely withdraw by the end of December. Eastern DRC experienced relative calm for about six months in 2023, but fighting resumed in the North Kivu province bordering Rwanda and Uganda in October. M23 rebels, backed by Rwanda, are behind much of the fighting. This saw one South African soldier killed and over a dozen injured last week in clashes between M23 fighters and SAMIDRC/FARDC/Wazelendo militia forces.