EACRF Soldier Killed In Eastern DR Congo Ambush

EACRF Soldier Killed In Eastern DR Congo Ambush

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

A Kenyan soldier attached to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) was killed on Tuesday in Kibumba in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a mortar fire attack launched by rebels.

A DRC army spokesman has since blamed rebel group M23 for the attack on the EACRF.

Lt-Col Kaiko Ndjike, the spokesman for the Congolese army in North Kivu, said that “the M23 attacked with a mortar fire that led to the death on Tuesday of a peacekeeper from the EACRF.”

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“After facing the determination of the FARDC (Congolese army) on the morning of Tuesday, when they attacked one of our positions, the M23, supported by the Rwandan army, directed their mortar fire at the advanced positions of the EACRF, with the aim of accusing the FARDC of being the perpetrators of the said fire and thus attracting the good graces and sympathy of the Regional Force, obviously creating a misunderstanding between the latter and the loyal forces of the DRC,” the Congolese army said in a statement on Tuesday.

The M23 did not immediately react to the accusation. But the death is the first such loss by the EACRF which deployed last year in November and has often engaged in direct combat with rebel groups in Eastern DRC, choosing instead to work as a buffer for civilian areas.

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However, the ambush, the second in a week on EACRF, could signal direct threats to the EACRF positions, currently divided among troop contributors Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi.

The DRC and Rwanda have often traded blame on supporting rebel groups targeting their respective security interests. Both sides deny the charges. But it could signal renewed tensions between neighbors who share ethnic identities among some of their border communities.

On Tuesday morning, the Congolese army had accused M23 of “breaking the ceasefire by attacking FARDC positions in Virunga Park” in North Kivu.

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“In the face of this provocation, all measures have been taken by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo to respond to all eventualities,” warned Ndjike.

Kinshasa, meanwhile, said on Tuesday it “respects the agreements of the Heads of State resulting from the Luanda and Nairobi agreements,” which impose a ceasefire between the M23 and the Congolese army.

Clashes have recently broken out near Goma on Monday with the Congolese army accusing M23 of killing civilians. M23 have in the past insisted they have a right to defend their sides, accusing FARDC of using allied rebels to attack them.

In the past month, there has been almost daily intense fighting between the M23 rebels and the armed Wazalendo self-defenses groups.

The EACRF was meant to help DRC regain peace but has had to deal with more than 100 armed groups.

Earlier in October, Kinshasa said it will not renew the mandate of EACRF once it expires on December 8.

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