A United Nations peacekeeper has been killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, UN and Congolese officials said on Saturday, in the latest violence to grip the conflict-torn region.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, said suspected members of the Twirwaneho militia carried out the attack on Friday night in the Minembwe area of South Kivu province.
“A peacekeeper was killed by armed men who approached the base after contacting MONUSCO to surrender,” MONUSCO said.
“Attacks against peacekeepers may constitute a war crime,” he added, calling on Congolese authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The Twirwaneho militia is one of more than 120 armed groups in the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It claims to represent the interests of the Banyamulenge, a Congolese Tutsi community.
A spokesman for the Congolese army in the Minembwe area, Lt. Jeremie Meya, also said that the Twirwaneho militiamen had killed the UN peacekeeper under the “ploy” of surrendering.
“These thugs shot the victim at close range and (he) died at the scene, they fled after this crime and disappeared,” Meya said.
Kibibi Saint Cadet, the leader of a civil society group in Minembwe, told AFP that the UN peacekeeper killed was Pakistani.
However, MONUSCO was unable to immediately confirm the nationality of the slain peacekeeper.
The attack comes after deadly anti-UN protests rocked the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July. Thirty-two protesters and four UN soldiers were killed over the course of the week-long unrest, according to a Congolese number, and UN bases were looted.
Many Congolese are frustrated by MONUSCO’s apparent ineffectiveness in the face of ongoing violence.
The UN first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999.
The peacekeeping mission became MONUSCO, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.
It currently has about 16,000 soldiers.