Congolese authorities have taken action Sunday after two people were killed by fire stemming from the United Nations peacekeeping forces stationed in the violence-torn African country, it was announced Sunday.
In addition to the two fatalities, at least 15 others were injured when a convoy of blue helmets country (MONUSCO) opened fire at a border post between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was outraged by the events and welcomed the decision of his special representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to detain the MONUSCO personnel involved in the incident and to immediately open an investigation, according to a statement.
The UN also admitted some of its troops had opened fire for unexplained reasons, adding that arrests had been made. The Secretary-General stresses in the strongest terms the need to establish accountability for these events,” the statement went on.
The Kinshasa Government strongly condemns this unfortunate incident with a provisional count of two compatriots killed and 15 wounded, according to a separate statement.
Military personnel of the Intervention Brigade of the MONUSCO force returning from a leave opened fire at the border post (of Kasindi, in the northeastern province of North Kivu) for unexplained reasons and forced their way in, it was also reported.
According to the UN mission, those responsible for the shooting were arrested and contacts were established with their country of origin - which they did not disclose - so that a judicial process could be initiated. The blue helmets involved will therefore not be able to form part of the MONUSCO contingents,” it was also explained.
The incident came amid popular protests demanding the withdrawal of the UN mission after more than two decades of proven uselessness in fighting local armed groups that plague the region.
At least 15 people were killed, 12 civilians and three members of the mission (a Moroccan soldier and two Indian policemen, according to the UN), while civil society groups speak of 27 dead and 58 wounded.
Just this weekend UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix arrived in the DRC. We hope that the conditions will be met so that MONUSCO can complete its mission and make room for other forms of international support, he said from Kinshasa.
President Felix Tshisekedi regretted the casualties and confirmed there was a plan for the progressive withdrawal of MONUSCO with 2024 as a target date.
The mission, whose mandate was renewed for another year by the UN Security Council in December 2021, pulled out of Tanganyika last June following the reduction of violence in that area.
Eastern DRC has been mired since 1998 by rebel militias and attacks by army soldiers, despite MONUSCO's 14,000-strong force.
This weekend's incident has reportedly been caught on video. The peacekeepers appeared to open fire after a verbal exchange before the barrier was lifted so that they could drive on.
During this incident, soldiers from the intervention brigade of the MONUSCO force returning from leave opened fire at the border post for unexplained reasons and forced their way through, the UN mission in Kasindi said in a statement earlier Sunday.
The Democratic Republic of Congo strongly condemns and deplores this unfortunate incident in which two compatriots died and 15 others were injured according to a provisional roll, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a statement. Local authorities launched an investigation with MONUSCO to establish who was responsible, why the shooting took place, and to ensure severe penalties are handed down.
The UN mission said the troops' home countries had been contacted so legal action could begin promptly, with the involvement of witnesses and survivors, which could lead to exemplary penalties.
More than 120 militias are operating in the DRC. The UN first deployed an observer mission to the region in 1999. In 2010, it became MONUSCO, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations. Since then, MONUSCO has lost 230 troops.
MONUSCO is formed, among others, by an Uruguayan contingent, with whom President Luis Lacalle Pou spent Christmas Eve in 2021.