By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – A peacekeeper was killed and another injured when a UN helicopter was attacked in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, the UN force known as MONUSCO confirmed.
The attack took place in the early afternoon in restive North Kivu province, according to a statement.
“A MONUSCO helicopter that took off from Beni to Goma came under fire, resulting in the death of one of the crew members, and seriously injured another peacekeeper,” the statement said.
The aircraft nevertheless managed to land at Goma airport, it said, without indicating who the attackers were.
Reports said the deceased peacekeeper is of South African origin.
Bintou Keita, the head of MONUSCO, warned that attacks on peacekeepers could constitute a war crime and that "no effort will be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice."
Keita strongly condemned what she said was a “cowardly attack” on an aircraft bearing the emblem of the UN.
Eastern Congo remains volatile, with 5.7 million people internally displaced amid food insecurity, according to the UN.
UN troops have been deployed in DR Congo since 1999.
Last October, a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in an attack by local militia on a peacekeepers' camp.
In July 2022, four peacekeepers were killed during protests against the presence of MONUSCO over its perceived inefficiency.
At least 32 soldiers and police officers taking part in UN-operated peacekeeping missions around the world were killed in targeted attacks in 2022, 13 of them in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the UN.