One of three South African soldiers wounded in an attack by armed rebels operating in the eastern DRC will today be flown home for further medical care.
The attack is said to have been by the Mai-Mai group under the command of militia leader, General Janvier Karairi, and happened in the early hours of Wednesday. It was launched at one of the UN Force Intervention Brigade’s (FIB) operating bases manned by soldiers from 6 SA Infantry Battalion.
“The soldiers stood their ground and defended the position with determination,” SANDF joint Operations spokesman Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen said.
“A decision was taken at FIB level to send the seriously wounded soldier home for further medical treatment and he will be flown to 1 Military Hospital today, but it must be stressed his life is not in danger. The condition of the other two is such that their injuries can be properly treated at the Level 3 hospital, operated by MONUSCO, in Goma.”
Following the attack on the forward base the FIB launched what is said to be a successful counter-attack on the rebel group although no details were available at the time of publication.
Sources in the eastern DRC said the attack took place close to the village of Nyabionda in a remote area of the eastern DRC.
South Africans are serving alongside soldiers from Malawi and Tanzania in the FIB, the first UN peacekeeping force in the world body’s history to be given an offensive mandate.
To date, South African equipment and expertise has been a large part of FIB’s success in driving the M23 rebel group back into Uganda. Rooivalk combat support helicopters from 16 Squadron were in the forefront of sorties that saw M23 turn tail, while a South African sniper recorded what is believed to be the fifth longest successful sniper kill in the world. This was also during operations against M23.
The 6 SAI detachment will return home to the unit’s Grahamstown headquarters next month. They will be replaced by soldiers from 5 SA Infantry Battalion in Ladysmith.
In preparation for the deployment 850 soldiers from the KwaZulu-Natal unit have undergone mission readiness training covering offensive and defensive tactics as well as jungle warfare in the densely forested area around Port St Johns.