SANDF soldiers safe in DRC

2012-11-21 20:22
SANDF peacekeeper (Picture: Supplied)

SANDF peacekeeper (Picture: Supplied)

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Johannesburg - No South African soldiers were involved in clashes between government forces and the rebel group M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Wednesday.

"The SANDF would like to dismiss with contempt any information which suggests that our members have been surrounded by M23," said Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga.

"The military command would like to assure all South Africans, members of the SANDF and their families that SANDF members are not in danger, as media reports allege."

Mabanga described the situation in the DRC as "tense".

He said reports had revealed that M23 had taken over Goma and pushed back government forces.

The SANDF contingent was deployed under the command of Monusco, which is the United Nations Organisation Mission in the DRC.

"We take cognisance of the tense security situation in the eastern DRC and that we have contingency plans for any eventuality," said Mabanga.

The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that South African peace-keepers had been isolated by heavily armed rebels in the city of Goma, eastern DRC, and there were fears for their safety.

About 300 South African soldiers were among the more than 1000 UN peacekeepers deployed in DRC, the paper reported.

The French news agency Agence France Presse reported that on Wednesday DRC President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame had met hours after Goma fell to M23.

The talks came amid warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe, with the United Nations and others reporting killings, abductions, looting and extortion.

According to AFP, the Rwandan government denied the UN's claim that it backed M23, which was made up of ethnic Tutsi fighters, and accused the DRC government of supporting Rwandan rebels based in the eastern DRC.

- SAPA

Read more on:    un  |  monusco  |  m23  |  sandf  |  sa  |  drc  |  central africa
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