The United Nations (UN) has confirmed that 14 of its peacekeeping officers were killed in an attack by an armed militia group yesterday (Dec. 7) in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The peacekeeping officers, who were all Tanzanian, were part of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). The UN says 53 other officers were also injured in the same attack.
António Guterres, UN secretary general said the attack was the worst against a peacekeeping mission in recent history. Guterres condemned the attack “unequivocally” saying the “deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime.” Guterres has also called for an investigation by DRC authorities to avoid ”impunity for such assaults.” MONUSCO reportedly has about 18,000 troops in DR Congo.
DRC has been locked in a political impasse for much of the past year as president Joseph Kabila refused to step down from office at end of last year when his tenure expired. Riots protesting Kabila’s continued stay in office led to a breakout of violence which left dozens dead. Armed militia are also fighting to gain control in resource-rich areas of DR Congo such as North Kivu and often clash with UN and DRC forces. In a similar incident back in October, two UN peacekeepers were killed while another 18 were injured after an attack on MONUSCO’s North Kivu operating base.