15 UN peacekeepers killed in deadliest attack in DR Congo (Source: Twitter)
Goma (DR Congo):
At least 15 United Nations peacekeepers were killed in the restive Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said on Saturday, in the deadliest attack in the organisation's recent history.
The UN Security Council said the peacekeepers, who were from neighbouring Tanzania, were killed in the North Kivu province late Thursday, alongside five Congolese soldiers, with 53 personnel wounded.
UN chief Antonio Guterres led an outpouring of outrage over the deadly ambush, calling it a "heinous" act.
"I condemn this attack unequivocally. These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime", he said in a statement.
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 this year.
North Kivu province, which borders Uganda and Rwanda, has seen a particular uptick in killings and kidnappings between rival ethnic groups.
The UN in October declared a level 3 emergency in DR Congo -- a status afforded to conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
MONUSCO, the UN's peacekeeping force in DR Congo, said its operating base at Semuliki, North Kivu, was attacked by "suspected ADF elements". ADF are a Ugandan Muslim rebel group, one of several armed groups active in the North Kivu region.
"Attacks against those who are working in the service of peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are cowardly", MONUSCO head Maman Sidikou said in a statement, vowing to bring the attackers to justice.
Guterres said it was the worst attack on UN peacekeepers in the organisation's recent history.
"I call on the DRC authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice", he said. "There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else.
Some those wounded in the attack are in critical condition with the medical evacuation of casualties continuing, he added, while military reinforcements have arrived on the scene.
Secretary-General @antonioguterres condemned today's attack on @UNPeacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Watch his statement below. Read our story at https://t.co/jwDpDeSTvH. pic.twitter.com/y1fAwSYUeO— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) December 8, 2017