The United Nations has deployed reinforcements to its Democratic Republic of Congo peacekeeping force near the eastern town Beni, after two soldiers were killed in an ambush Tuesday.
“This morning we sent reinforcements to the Beni area — a rapid response unit to back up those caught in ambush,” Felix Prosper Basse, spokesman for the UN`s MONUSCO DRCongo mission, told AFP the day after the two Tanzanian blue helmets were killed near Beni.
Basse added that MONUSCO`s military leader, Brazilian General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, would also travel to Beni — a trading hub in an area regularly bloodied in attacks by Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Santos Cruz`s objective in the town, Basse said, was to coordinate “robust measures” against members of the ADF suspected of having staged Tuesday`s deadly ambush.
The Muslim rebels of the ADF, who launched an insurgency in neighbouring Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni in the mid-1990s, are accused of killing more than 260 civilians in and around Beni between October and December last year.
In addition to the two Tanzanian peacekeepers killed this week, 13 other UN forces were wounded, and an undisclosed number of civilians also died.
The attack was the second within 48 hours on UN personnel.
On Monday a UN helicopter carrying Santos Cruz was fired upon by unknown gunmen and forced to make an emergency landing.
Recent battles in the region have also left 28 ADF fighters dead, 22 wounded, and eight captured, according to civilian sources.
The slain Tanzanian blue helmets were members of a 3,000-soldier UN intervention brigade, itself part of broader 20,000 MONUSCO force struggling to quell violent activity by scores of armed groups from DRCongo and neighbouring countries operating to the east of the mineral-rich country.
The zone around Beni was relatively calm on Wednesday.