Friday, December 8, 2017
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — In the deadliest single attack on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in recent memory, rebels in eastern Congo killed at least 14 peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in an assault on their base that was launched at nightfall and went on for hours.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed "outrage and utter heartbreak" and called the attack a war crime, urging Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate. The State Department's Bureau of African Affairs said it was "horrified."
The peacekeepers killed were from Tanzania, and President John Magufuli expressed his shock and prayers for the wounded. At least five Congolese soldiers also were killed in the attack Thursday evening that has been blamed on one of the region's deadliest rebel groups.
Three peacekeepers remained missing, the U.N. said. More than 20 were evacuated for medical treatment in the regional capital, Goma.
It was not clear when military reinforcements arrived after the attack, the U.N. said. Conditions in the region are "very, very challenging," said U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who said the attack followed a recent increase in activities by various armed groups. He called the assault a response to the U.N. mission's own "increasingly robust posture."
"We are disturbing them," he said. "They do not like it."
The peacekeeping base is about 27 miles from the town of Beni, which has been repeatedly attacked by the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group, which is suspected in Thursday's assault. The base is home to the U.N. mission's rapid-intervention force, which has a rare mandate to go on the offensive against armed groups in the vast, mineral-rich region.