UN provides more details on peacekeeper violence in DR Congo

UNITED NATIONS— The United Nations provided more details on a fatal incident on Sunday that involved UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The peacekeepers returning from leave to the DRC killed two civilians after initially being refused DRC entry, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Preliminary information showed the troops waited overnight in an area between the official exit point from Uganda and the official entry point into the DRC. The incident occurred the next morning (Sunday) in Kasindi in the DRC’s North Kivu province, he said.

“There’s always a bit of a no man’s land between border A and border B. The troops were returning. They crossed from Uganda. They were then in that kind of a no man’s land. They were not granted immediate access into the DRC. They waited overnight, and the violence occurred the next morning,” said Dujarric.

The peacekeepers allegedly killed two civilians with gunfire and wounded 15 others.

The spokesman identified the peacekeepers only as members of a battalion from the Force Intervention Brigade of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO. The force commander ordered the detention of the peacekeepers involved.

Although Dujarric did not reveal the peacekeepers’ number nor nationality, he said the mission contacted the country concerned “with a view to advancing a national judicial investigation” and that MONUSCO ordered an investigation.

There are more than 12,000 peacekeepers in the DRC from more than 10 countries.

The incident so outraged and saddened the secretary-general that he telephoned DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday, apologized for the incident and offered his condolences.

Peacekeepers in North Kivu were the subject of attacks in recent weeks by demonstrators complaining they were not doing enough to protect them from various armed groups terrorizing the eastern DRC. Three peacekeepers were killed last week in the protests. Relative peace has prevailed in recent days.