The UN peacekeeper killed in fighting between ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) rebels and MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) was a Malawian soldier, it has been confirmed.
At the same time UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the rebel attack at Makembi in North Kivu province and called for swift action to bring to justice the perpetrators.
Another Malawian soldier was wounded in the attack which saw four Congolese soldiers killed and seven people hacked to death. Indications today are that at least 30 people were killed in the clash on Sunday.
The FIB is made up of Malawian, South African and Tanzanian battalions.
Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, SSO 1, Operation Communications at South African Natioanl Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations, said it was possible South African soldiers were part of the joint FARDC (DRC government soldiers)/FIB force involved in the weekend’s fighting.
“Our soldiers are part and parcel of the FIB and if tasked they go where they are sent,” he said, adding confirmation had been received that there were no South African casualties or fatalities in the latest round of fighting.
According to the UN the Malawian soldier was killed and another wounded during “a heavy exchange of fire” when the ADF attacked a MONUSCO base.
Ban’s spokesman said the Secretary-General was “extremely concerned” by the series of ADF attacks in North Kivu. These have resulted in 500 civilian deaths since October 2014.
“Attacks on civilians are a clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
The UN Security Council has also repeated its call for the elimination of local and foreign armed groups, including ADF, which have for decades devastated the eastern DRC. The Council also called for an immediate resumption of joint operations between the UN peacekeeping mission’s FIB and the DRC national army.
The SANDF has 2 200 soldiers currently on peacekeeping duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Darfur Region in Sudan as part of United Nations and African Union mandated missions. 121 South African Infantry Battalion took over from 5 South African Infantry Battalion in the DRC as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade that is credited with neutralising M23 rebels.
The SANDF also trains soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) under Mission Thebe. This has trained and handed over 9 000 recruits and soldiers for utilisation by the DRC.