The Latest: Tanzania president in shock over UN Congo attack
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The Latest on deadly attack on U.N. peacekeepers in Congo (all times local):
Tanzania’s president is expressing shock over the killing of 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers in the deadliest single attack on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in recent memory.
President John Magufuli is urging the East African nation to remain calm on the eve of its independence day on Saturday.
He also says he is praying for the quick recovery of the 53 peacekeepers injured in Thursday evening’s attack by rebels in eastern Congo.
The State Department says it is “horrified” by reports of the deadliest attack on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in recent history.
The department’s Bureau of African Affairs says on Twitter that it extends “deepest condolences” to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, the Congolese military and the families of those killed.
The U.N. says at least 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and another 53 were wounded when suspected rebels attacked a base in eastern Congo on Thursday evening. Fighting went on for hours.
The United Nations says at least two peacekeepers are still missing after the single deadliest attack on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in recent memory.
Peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix says at least 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed in the attack Thursday evening on a base in eastern Congo. Of the 53 wounded, three are critically hurt and more than 20 have been evacuated to the regional city of Goma.
U.N. officials say the “major attack” by suspected Allied Democratic Forces rebels began at dusk and continued for at least three hours. It is not yet clear how many fighters attacked.
The officials say the attack comes after “increased activities by various armed groups” in the region and is a response to the peacekeeping mission’s “increasingly robust posture” there.
“We are disturbing them. They do not like it,” Lecroix says.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the attack on peacekeepers in Congo is the worst in the U.N.’s recent history and is “a war crime.”
“Today is a very tragic day for the U.N. family,” the U.N. chief says.
Guterres is expressing “my outrage and utter heartbreak” at Thursday night’s attack, saying early indications are that at least 12 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and at least 40 injured, four critically. He says at least five Congolese soldiers were also killed.
“I condemn this attack unequivocally,” he says. “These deliberate attacks on peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime.”
He urges Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.
A United Nations spokesman says 14 peacekeepers have been killed and over 40 wounded in an attack in eastern Congo.
Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says at least five Congolese soldiers were also killed in the attack in North Kivu province.
Haq says the peacekeepers are mainly from the Tanzanian contingent.
“It’s a very huge attack, certainly the worst in recent memory,” Haq says.
A “large number” of United Nations peacekeepers have been killed and wounded in an attack in eastern Congo, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Friday.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix said he was “outraged” by the attack Thursday evening in North Kivu province. He said on Twitter that medical evacuations were ongoing from the scene. He did not identify the attackers.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo is the largest and most expensive in the world and is aimed at calming a number of armed groups in the vast, mineral-rich Central African nation.
Radio Okapi, which is linked to the peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO, reported that peacekeepers on Thursday repelled an attack by fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group on a U.N. base in the Beni area. The base is home to the peacekeeping mission’s rapid intervention force, which has a rare mandate to go on the offensive.
The radio station, citing military sources, said fighting lasted four hours. It reported that Congolese forces did not intervene because the closest ones were several miles away.