SA helicopters aid in recapture of DRC town

2013-12-26 09:24

A special UN force in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) used helicopters to fire on Ugandan rebels and help government troops retake the town of Kamango after an attack that killed civilians.

“South African helicopters in the UN intervention force were asked by FARDC [the DRC army] to give them support to recapture Kamango,” said a senior officer with the UN mission to DRC, also known as Monusco, who declined to be identified by name.

“We have already taken back Kamango,” said Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Amuli, a FARDC army spokesperson in North-Kivu province, the mineral-rich but volatile region plagued by a number of armed groups.

Amuli admitted that at the time of the attack on Kamango yesterday, the Congolese forces “withdrew because they were outnumbered”.

The rebel attack took place before dawn, said Teddy Kataliko, head of the civil society in the Beni region where Kamango is located.

The civil organisation blamed the initial attack on the Islamist Ugandan rebel group ADF-Nalu in collaboration with Uganda’s army. It is one of the oldest but least known armed groups based in eastern DRC.

“We have 10 people kidnapped, 11 civilians and five soldiers wounded, and several civilians killed, as well as homes burned, by the attackers,” Kataliko said earlier.

The officer from Monusco also confirmed the retaking of Kamango by government troops, saying “apparently the demonstration of force and the involvement of South African Rooivalks intimidated the ADF-Nalu”.

Kataliko said the rebels were “now heading towards the town of Nobili” on the Congolese-Ugandan border, where more than 150 000 people have taken refuge from the fighting.

“We believe there is the risk of a massacre and that’s why we are asking to establish a humanitarian corridor,” he said, making an appeal to the government to come to the aid of those people.

Kataliko also said that those fleeing the fighting would not be able to cross the border into Uganda, which was closed.

ADF-Nalu stands for Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda and is considered the only Islamist organisation in the region.

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