UN troops battle militiamen in Congo clash
- [Note. Peace... a most elusive thing in Black Africa... Oh... I forgot...
they said when white people are gone the black people would live in
peace. Or am I mistaken... wasn't it more peaceful when Colonialism was
By Dino Mahtani
Kinshasa - United Nations troops fought a five-hour gunbattle against
militia fighters who attacked their positions in the Democratic Republic
of Congo's north-eastern town of Bunia, leaving one peacekeeper injured,
a spokesperson for the mission said on Thursday.
The clashes late into the night on Wednesday were among the most serious
involving UN troops deployed in the volatile east of Africa's third
largest country to quell ethnic fighting and protect civilians.
"The attacks came from two separate spots in the south and one from the
east. One Bangladeshi soldier was shot in the leg but survived," said
spokesman Leocadio Salmeron by phone from Bunia.
Despite an April peace deal to end Democratic Republic of Congo's
five-year war, fighting has continued to spread terror and cost lives in
the lawless east. Around three million people died during the war, mainly
from hunger and disease.
US troops deployed in Bunia in September with a mandate to patrol the
surrounding mineral-rich district of Ituri and prevent clashes between
rival Hema and Lendu militias, keen to win control of the gold, diamond
and coltan reserves.
More than 50 000 people have been killed in Ituri since 1999.
The peacekeepers have exchanged shots with militia fighters before but
Wednesday's incident highlights the challenges facing the
thousands-strong force as it seeks to enforce peace in a nation the size
of Western Europe.
Salmeron said Wednesday's attacks seemed to come from different groups.
There were no details on militia casualties.
In September, a UN helicopter fired on militiamen outside Bunia after
they raised their weapons as if to shoot. Days earlier UN troops were
fired on in Bunia.
Last week, 150 UN troops were dispatched to stop fighting between Hema
and Lendu troops outside Bunia, which has been declared a no-weapons
About 5 000 peacekeepers, including Uruguayan, Bangladeshi, Pakistani,
Indian, Nepalese and Indonesian troops, are expected to be deployed
throughout Ituri, a province that rivals the size of Liberia, by the end
of the year.
The force's total strength in the DRC is due to reach 10 800.