Indian UN peacekeepers repulse armed attack in Congo

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Raghvendra RaoUpdated: Oct 09, 2017, 11:56 AM IST
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File photo. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

Alert Indian peacekeepers repulsed an attack by a group of around 30 armed men, suspected to be Mai Mai cadres (local armed group), on its Lubero post in Congo on October 6. Friday’s attack was a rare frontal assault on UN forces deployed for protecting civilians in Congo.

"At around 0200 GMT, a group of armed men, probably Mai-Mai, attacked the MONUSCO (UN mission in the DRC) position" near central Lubero, General Bernard Commins, Deputy Chief of the UN troops in the restive country, announced.

Two of the attackers were killed and two were wounded, while two Indian peacekeepers were also suffered minor injuries in the attack. The injured cadre was given immediate first aid by the Indian doctor at the MONUSCO camp and later shifted to Indian Hospital in Goma.

The Mai-Mai became prominent as armed community militias during the Second Congo War (1998-2003), when they effectively allied with the government to battle invading troops notably from Rwanda as well as foreign rebels. Some Mai-Mai forces never gave up the weapons they got from the regime. Since the beginning of 2017, Mai-Mai militias have regularly attacked Congolese Army positions in North Kivu and in neighbouring South Kivu. The Lubero region lies about 300 km North of Goma, the main town of North Kivu province, where dozens of illegal armed groups control several villages. They have been at odds with the government for exploiting mineral resources and prey on local residents.

On September 16, 22 children including six girls were extricated by Indian troops from Nyabiondo, a village in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo on thus foiling attempts by Armed Groups from turning these children into ‘Child Soldiers’. This was the culmination of a 48 hour Long Range Mission launched by the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion based on information received from locals. These children were later handed over to UN Child Protection Agencies for rehabilitation.

On the same day, soldiers of another Indian Battalion prevented displacement of an entire village involving more than 200 families in the Miriki area. The exodus was being caused by fighting between rival groups leading to panic in the region. An immediate show of force by Indian soldiers drove off the fighting groups and brought the situation under control.

More than 2600 Indian peacekeepers are deployed in DR Congo under the UN Peacekeeping Mission called MONUSCO. It is the largest and most complex UN Peacekeeping Mission. The Indian Brigade is deployed in the most unstable province, North Kivu covering an area of 43700 square kilometers with 948 villages and 42 camps for the 1,80,000 internally displaced people. Indian troops conduct 2300 patrols per month to ensure the protection of civilians; the main mandate of MONUSCO.