At least 14 United Nations peacekeepers and five Congolese soldiers (FARDC) have been killed by suspected militiamen in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. mission said on Friday.
According to UN’s MONUSCO, a further 53 U.N. troops were wounded in an attack linked to rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) at Semuliki, in North Kivu province.
MONUSCO said it was coordinating a joint response with the Congolese army as well as medical evacuations of the wounded from the base in North Kivu’s Beni territory.
DR Congo has suffered years of instability with rival groups fighting for control of territory. These rival militia groups still control swathes of mineral-rich eastern Congo nearly a decade and a half after the official end of a 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people, most from hunger and disease.
In a statement, MONUSCU head Maman Sidikou said: “I condemn in the strongest terms this deadly attack on United Nations peacekeepers and the FARDC.
“MONUSCO will take all actions to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable and brought to justice.”
Gilbert Kambale, the president of an activist group in Beni, said the U.N. soldiers targeted in the attack were Tanzanian. A U.N. official confirmed that information to the Reuters news agency.
Aid agencies say the conflict in DR Congo has forced 1.7 million people in DR Congo to flee their homes this year with the Norwegian Refugee Council’s DR Congo director, Ulrika Blom, described the situation as “a mega-crisis”.
“The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” she said.
Established in 2010, MONUSCO, the United Nations’s largest peacekeeping mission, has recorded 93 fatalities of military, police and civilian personnel.
“Our thoughts and prayers with families and our colleagues in MONUSCO. Reinforcements are on scene and medical evacuations by mission ongoing,” the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, wrote on Twitter.