Eight UN Peacekeepers Killed after Helicopter Crash in Eastern Congo
30 March 2022
Eight UN peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo amid rebel fighting, according to the United Nations.
UN officials confirmed in a statement that aboard the Puma helicopter were six Pakistani military crew members, and two military personnel —one from Russia and another from Serbia.
Their bodies were retrieved from the crash site during a search and rescue operation launched by The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC.
The mission, known as MONUSCO, did not specify the cause of the crash on Tuesday and said an investigation was ongoing.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his “deep sense of shock and grief,” while the country’s UN ambassador gave his condolences in a separate statement:
“They made this ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the UN contingent. My heart goes out to the families of the martyrs.”
According to MONUSCO, the Puma helicopter was on a reconnaissance mission when it crashed in the city of Tshanzu in North Kivu province, the scene of recent clashes between the M23 rebel group and Congolese soldiers.
While the armed forces of the DRC have said the helicopter was shot down by M23 rebels, the militant group denies this, instead blaming the Congolese army.
M23 —also known as the March 23 Movement or the Congolese Revolutionary Army— was driven out of the DRC and chased into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda after seizing large swathes of land in 2012 and 2013.
The fighters have returned in recent months to wage attacks against the DRC, with heavy fighting reigniting late on Sunday, three days after the group’s spokesman accused the Congolese government of ‘waging war’ against them.
According to a Congolese official, the rebels moved into the city of Kabindi on Tuesday, and are nearing the area's local administrative seat.
Writer: Julianna Lozada
Photo Credits: Reuters