KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - A United Nations peacekeeper in Congo was killed by an exploding shell, an official said Friday, as rebels in
the country's volatile east took a strategic border crossing into
The Indian peacekeeper was killed overnight on Thursday as
fighters from the M23 rebel group attempted to take the town of
Bunagana, said Madnodje Mounoubai, the United Nations spokesman in Congo.
"I confirm the death of a peacekeeper of Indian origin working
for the United Nations mission in Congo," he said. "He was hit by
an exploding shell during an attack by the M23 mutineers in
Bunagana last night."
Congo's two-year-long peace was shattered in April when an army
unit led by Gen. Bosco Ntaganda defected.
They fled into the bush, where they regrouped as the M23 rebels,
named for the date in March 2009 when the former rebels signed a
deal with the Congolese government, allowing them to be integrated
into the very army they have now deserted once more.
After controlling the mountaintops, the rebels earlier this week
made a push and seized the strategic village of Jambo, cutting
access to the border crossing of Bunagana into Uganda and Rwanda.
Then overnight Thursday, they took Bunagana, according to a
spokesman for the rebels as well as a resident of the town who
requested anonymity fearing reprisal.
"We took the town of Bunagana this morning at around 6 a.m. but
we do not plan to stay," said M23 spokesman Vianney Kazarama, who
was reached by telephone in eastern Congo. "We plan to leave our
police there for security, but we are going to return to our
initial positions in the surrounding hills. ... We do not need to
take the towns or the villages even if we control several now. We
are only asking the government of Kinshasa to respond to our
demands, which are known by all."
A United Nations report says that the rebels are led by Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, and backed by Rwanda - a charge Rwanda denies.
The notoriously ill-equipped Congolese army has been struggling
to contain the rebellion. On Friday, the spokesman for the Ugandan
army Capt. Peter Mugisa said that around 600 Congolese soldiers had sought refuge in Uganda after an intense battle with the rebels.
Mugisa were in the custody of the Ugandan military and did not
want to go back home yet, fearing they might be massacred by the
rebels they were sent to fight.
Analysts fear that the new conflict could once again drag Congo
into the cycle of violence it had only recently started to stem. In
the country's lawless east, entire wards have been set up to treat
rape victims, one of the many atrocities that have become
widespread as a result of years of fighting.
At the United Nations in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
said in a statement that he regrets the peacekeeper's death and
called for an "immediate end to all violence perpetrated by armed