Congo’s army has suspended an officer accused of drinking with the enemy ahead of a militia attack that the UN said left six soldier’s dead, a top army commander said today.
Local Mai Mai militia fighters attacked an army camp in the town of Nyamilima, near Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern border with Uganda, last week.
The army’s head of operations in North Kivu province said Nyamilima’s battalion commander, known as Major Leon, was suspended for negligence in the execution of his functions.
“He was drinking in the camp with the Mai Mai that then came and attacked,” Colonel Bobo Kakudji told Reuters.
Congo’s UN peacekeeping mission, known as MONUC, said eight people died in the fighting, including six soldiers, one Mai Mai, and a civilian. According to the army, one government soldier, a civilian woman, and four Mai Mai were killed.
Government forces are battling Rwandan Hutu rebels the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in UN-backed operations in the eastern border provinces of North and South Kivu.
However, the offensive, launched earlier this year, has led to increased tension among government loyalists and the various rebel factions and militias brought into the army under a peace deal intended to help boost its capacity to take on the FDLR.
The army’s previous commander at Nyamilima was transferred earlier this month after hundreds of former rebels deserted and went on a looting spree.
Last week, 20 eastern militia groups suspended their participation in the peace deal, accusing the government of failing to honour pledges to grant them command positions in the army.