DRC detains 6 UN peacekeepers

Kinshasa - Congolese authorities detained six members of a Ukrainian aviation crew working for the UN peacekeeping force on Wednesday after Congolese military uniforms were found in their luggage, the UN force said.

The Ukrainians were held after a search of their luggage at the airport in Goma, in North Kivu province, according to the province's governor, Julien Paluku. The large number of uniforms found included some for the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential guard.

Paluku said an investigation has been opened.

The UN force, known as Monusco, said the Ukrainians were accused of illegally possessing the republican guard uniforms found in their vehicles.

Charles Antoine Bambara, a spokesperson for the force, said Monusco is aware of the incident and is cooperating with Congolese authorities "to clarify what has really happened".

"An investigation has begun to assess every detail of this incident and establish the facts and draw conclusion", Bambara said.

If there was misconduct by the Ukrainians, "all measures will be taken in accordance with the United Nations" which has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct, he said.

Bambara said Monusco is calling for calm to allow the investigation to be completed.

Monusco has about 21 000 troops in eastern DRC, which is home to a number of armed groups competing for control of the region's vast mineral resources.

The DRC conflict is mainly a spill over from the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. Hundreds of Hutus who participated in the mass slaughter escaped into DRC and still fight there, along with other armed groups.

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