According to the UN mission in the Congo, 50 men armed with assault rifles and other weapons attacked the base of the UN peacekeeping base in Rwindi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at around 22:30 local time on Saturday 23rd October 2010.
MONUSCO released a statement saying:
At about 22:30 hours, on Saturday 23 October, about fifty men armed with AK47 rifles and locally fabricated weapons formed up in front of the MONUSCO base clearly showing their intention to attack the base. Despite repeated warnings from the Blue Helmets, the armed men continued moving towards the base, deliberately opened fire on the peacekeepers and tried to make a forced entry into the base from various directions.
In response to this hostile attack, and in accordance with their rules of engagement, the Blue Helmets repulsed the attack. The firefight lasted for about 15-20 minutes, and the peacekeepers’ reaction forced the attackers to flee. An immediate search resulted in the recovery, around the base, of seven dead and oneinjured who later succumbed to his injuries.
A further search along with the guards of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) based in this area, resulted in the recovery of two more injured. These injured were evacuated to the MONUSCO base and then to the hospital in Rutshuru. The provisional toll from this attack stands at eight dead and two injured on the side of the attackers whose identity has not yet been established. Two AK47 machine guns, 3 machetes, 3 magazines, 725 rounds, a grenade and explosives were also recovered.
The Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) subsequently captured some other individuals, who are in detention. A detailed investigation into this incident, including the identification of the perpetrators and their motives, is now underway, in coordination with the Congolese authorities.
Early indications suggest that the attackers may be members of a Mai Mai group. MONUSCO welcomes the announcement made on Sunday from Rwindi by the Military Justice Authority of North Kivu stating its intention to immediately initiate judicial action against the perpetrators of this attack.
Mai Mai groups are local militias. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen several armies from within and without its borders fight for control of its vast natural resources, which include coltan – an essential mineral used in the manufacture of electronics – and cobalt – which is used in superalloys for jet engine parts.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Roger Meece, has strongly condemned the attack. MONUSCO reiterated that it will continue to support the Congolese Government’s efforts to organise peace.
The Second Congo War has been termed “the African World War” owing to some estimates that it has claimed more lives than any other conflict since World War II, a figure of around 5.4 million dead. A peace accord led to Joseph Kabila being sworn in as President and UN peacekeepers entering the country in 2006. However, widespread violence and rape continue.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world’s largest countries spanning over two million square kilometres (0.9 million square miles).