UN chief condemns killing of ‘blue helmets’ in DR Congo, as violence erupts prior to elections
United Nations Secretary-General António Gutteres condemned the killing of seven peacekeepers on Wednesday serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is also confronting a lethal Ebola outbreak.
His spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said on Thursday that one Tanzanian and six Malawian ‘blue helmets’ were killed during joint operations carried out by the UN stabilization mission and the Government’s forces, known by the French acronym FARDC, against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group in the east of the country, North Kivu’s Beni territory.
“Initial reports indicate that ten additional peacekeepers were wounded and another one is missing,” said Mr. Dujarric.
The Secretary-General expressed his deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the peacekeepers’ families and the Malawian and Tanzanian Governments and their people.
He also wished a prompt recovery to the wounded and conveyed his strong support to the Malawian and Tanzanian contingents, which continue to protect local populations against attacks of the ADF and other armed groups.
According to news reports, MONUSCO, as the UN Mission in the country is known, and FARDC have been conducting a joint military operation as the ADF is spreading terror in the country’s east, threatening hopes for trouble-free elections on 23 December.
The Secretary-General called on all armed groups to stop their destabilizing activities that continue to add to the population’s suffering and further complicate the Ebola response.
“He calls on them to disarm immediately,” stressed his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General encourages the Congolese authorities to continue taking the necessary measures to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks against civilians, national security forces and peacekeepers in the DRC,” concluded Mr. Dujarric.