Kinshasa, DRC | Xinhua | The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday condemned the attack on a helicopter of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) on the outskirts of the city of Goma, the capital of the eastern North Kivu province.
The helicopter came under fire on Sunday while travelling from Beni, a city in northeastern DRC, to Goma, resulting in one South African peacekeeper killed and another severely injured. The crew managed to land the helicopter in Goma, according to the United Nations.
At least one crew member was killed and another peacekeeper injured in the attack, said the MONSUCO in a press release.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement released on Monday, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya stressed that the attack on the UN helicopter took place in the area occupied by the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23), supported by the Rwandan Army (RDF), 24 hours after the ceasefire decreed in Bujumbura, the largest city of Burundi, by the heads of state of the East African Community (EAC).
“This umpteenth attack by the M23/RDF coalition is part of a deliberate strategy to harm United Nations peacekeepers,” said the spokesman.
Kinshasa reiterated its urgent call to the UN Security Council to take immediate sanctions against the M23 and their Rwandan allies for this violence against MONUSCO personnel and the Congolese population.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also strongly condemned the attack. In a statement on Sunday, he said that “attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime under international law,” and called on the Congolese authorities “to investigate this heinous attack and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.”
For several months, the Congolese army has been fighting against the M23 rebels who have occupied several areas in the territory of Rutshuru and part of the territory of Masisi, located in the North Kivu province. The M23 rebels are seen heading towards the city of Goma since Monday morning, learned Xinhua on the spot.
The North Kivu province, long plagued by insecurity and violence, has been an epicenter of intensive fighting for months between government troops and local armed groups. ■