SANDF says troops not in Goma battle

2013-07-16 20:20


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Johannesburg - The SA National Defence Force denied on Tuesday reports that its soldiers were engaged in combat with rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"The SANDF wishes to categorically state that our members in DRC have not been engaged in any battle with the rebels'" spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said.

"Over the past 36 hours there have been various reports coming through various sources and we would like to put it on record that there have been no SANDF engagements in the eastern DRC with rebels."

The Times Live website reported on Tuesday that soldiers of the Six SA Infantry Battalion had been deployed in the DRC in a United Nations "intervention brigade" and were in the middle of a "very intense firefight".

It reported that the brigade consisted of 2 069 soldiers, of whom 850 were South African, and fell under the authority of the UN's broader 19 000-strong Monusco peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

According to the report, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Prosper Basse, a spokesperson for the Monusco force, said on Monday that the South Africans were ''in the middle'' of the fierce fighting around Goma, the provincial capital.

"The [Monusco] operational base in Monigi has always been a South African base. It is on a hill dominating Goma," said Basse.

The South African troops were reportedly involved in two other clashes in the past week, sparked when another rebel group, the Mai Mai, attacked a nearby M23 base.

However, on Tuesday news agency Agence France-Presse reported that the brigade, which comprised troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, were expected to be active within the next few weeks.

Dlamini requested the media to stop "speculating" about what was happening in the eastern DRC and try and get factual information.

"Reports on the ground indicate that Sunday/Monday's attacks by the government troops on positions of the M23 at Mutaho near Goma were predetermined," he said.

"The FARDC [government troops] employed various capabilities and succeeded to dislocate the M23 from Mutaho. The SANDF was not in any way affected by the clash between government forces and M23."

He said the SANDF consistently indicated that it had not engaged any rebel forces in the DRC.

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