BUKAVU, DR CONGO: Angry villagers surrounded a UN peacekeeping base in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday and opened fire and hurled stones injuring at least 11 Pakistani peacekeepers, officials said.
The villagers had apparently been angry because they were not protected against attacks by militias. But UN Security Council strongly condemned the attack but also expressed concern about deteriorating security in the conflict prone region.
Villagers marched on the UN base in the Bunyiakiri district of South Kivu province after an overnight attack which reportedly killed six people, a UN spokesman in Kinshasa, Monodje Mounoubai, told AFP.
The residents said the UN troops “did nothing to defend” the village against attack, which was blamed on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, Mounoubai said.
“Shots directed at our troops were fired from this demonstrating crowd” which left the wounded — including two in critical condition, said the spokesman. “Our troops did not return fire because if they had fired there would have been carnage,” he said. “They controlled themselves.”
Pakistan, a current member of the Security Council, asked for a special meeting. A statement agreed by the 15-member body said at least 11 Pakistani troops suffered serious injuries and “condemned in the strongest terms” the attack.
Council members “reiterated their serious concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Kivus and the impact on the Congolese population.”
The UN mission in DR Congo reported that “elements” of a Mai-Mai group, the Rai Mutomboki, “may have been part of the protest and may have fired on the peacekeepers,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. The Rai Mutomboki is an armed self-defence group.
“The mission is monitoring the situation and has sent reinforcements to the area, which is now reportedly calm but tense,” Nesirky said.