At least 12 United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN Secretary-General said on Friday — the worst attack in the organisation’s recent history.
Antonio Guterres said early reports suggested 12 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed on Thursday evening in the North Kivu region in the east of the country.
Another 40 were wounded in the violence, four critically.
A UN official, who spoke anonymously, told AFP 14 peacekeepers were killed.
The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MINUSCO, is believed to have been targeted by Ugandan Muslim rebel group ADF, one of several armed groups active in the North Kivu region, according to Congolese military sources.
In a statement, Guterres said it was the worst attack on UN peacekeepers in the organisation’s recent history.
“I condemn this attack unequivocally. These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime,” Guterres said.
“I call on the DRC authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice. There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else.”
Guterres said at least five Congolese soldiers were also killed in Thursday’s attack.
The medical evacuation of causalities is ongoing, while military reinforcements have arrived on the scene, he said.
DR Congo’s huge eastern region has long been wracked by violence, but fighting between government soldiers and militia groups, as well as inter-ethnic clashes, has increased significantly in 2017.
The country has also faced violence after President Joseph Kabila, who was supposed to step down after his final term last December, pushed back a new vote until December 2018.