At least three people were killed on Tuesday evening, February 7, during the attack on a United Nations (UN) convoy in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“The blue helmets were returning from a supply mission in Kiwanja”a town located some 70 km north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, where they were going, “accompanied by the FARDC” (Congolese soldiers), explains the United Nations mission in the DRC (Monusco), in a press release.
Shortly before arriving in Goma, “they were attacked by demonstrators who had previously barricaded the road with large stones, thus forcing the convoy to come to a standstill”. Of the “attackers” then set fire to four trucks which they “snatched the cargo”.
“Three people unfortunately lost their lives during the scuffles”while the blue helmets and the FARDC “tried to protect the convoy”adds the text. “A joint investigation with the Congolese authorities will determine the circumstances of these regrettable deaths”specifies Monusco which “deplores the death of three demonstrators during the violent attack on his convoy”.
Five dead according to a local official
Jean-Claude Mambo Kawaya, president of the civil society of the territory of Nyiragongo, where the attack took place, specified that this one had occurred at the level of Kanyaruchinya, where there are thousands of people displaced by war. Vehicles were set on fire and, when “the crowd wanted to break into a container containing weapons, the blue helmets opened fire”, he added. According to him, five people were killed.
“The population and the displaced attacked a Monusco convoy”simply declared Colonel Patrick Iduma, administrator of the territory, without further details on the balance sheet.
Demonstrations have multiplied since last year against Monusco, which locals blame for failing to neutralize the dozens of armed groups that have plagued eastern DRC for nearly three decades, including the M23 rebels. .
In July, deadly demonstrations accompanied by destruction and looting took place in several cities to demand the departure of the United Nations. In Goma, Butembo, Beni and other localities, demonstrators stormed Monusco facilities. According to the authorities, 36 people, including four blue helmets, had been killed.
Among the largest and costliest UN missions in the world, MONUSCO has been present in the DRC since 1999. It has around 16,000 peacekeepers. The mission indicates, Tuesday evening, that its leader, Bintou Keita, “compasses with the families of the disappeared” And “reiterates its appeal to the population to facilitate free movement” of its staff.
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The same type of hostility has begun to surface recently against the Community of East African States, a regional force deployed in eastern DRC, accused by the population of “passivity” against the M23 rebels.
On Monday, a ghost town day was decreed in Goma and degenerated into violent demonstrations, with looting of shops and certain churches frequented by “rwandophones”.
Rwanda is accused by the DRC of supporting the M23, which is corroborated by UN experts and Western countries, although Kigali denies it. A predominantly Tutsi movement, the M23 (for March 23 Movement) appeared in 2012 and was defeated the following year by the Congolese army supported by blue helmets. In November 2021, he took up arms again and seized large swaths of territory north of Goma.
On Tuesday, the Congolese army marched through the city to, according to a spokesman, ” to reassure “ the population, show them that the army is there, “ready for any eventuality”.
A South African blue helmet had been killed and another seriously injured on Sunday when shooting at their helicopter in North Kivu. On March 29, 2022, eight blue helmets were killed in the crash of their helicopter above a combat zone between the Congolese army and the M23.