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UN Peacekeeper In DR Of Congo Killed

UN Peacekeeper In DR Of Congo Killed, Bringing Five-Year Total To 74 New York,

May 30 2006

The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) is searching for seven of their colleagues who disappeared during a confrontation between armed militias and UN-backed soldiers from the national army, which also left one UN peacekeeper dead and brought the six-year peacekeeping death toll to 74.

Three other peacekeepers, all from the Nepalese unit, were wounded. After being immediately evacuated to MONUC’s Moroccan hospital in Bunia, there were now out of danger, the mission said.

“In the course of Sunday morning, 28 May 2006, a Nepalese peacekeeper died in combat during a clash occurring in the region of Tsupu (Ituri district), about 100 kilometres from Bunia, in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (DRC) it said in a release. “Seven other Nepalese soldiers faced difficulties during the clash and lost contact with their unit.”

The clash occurred as MONUC blue helmets were helping the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) during their operation against the militias in Ituri on the eve of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

As the operations continued, some militiamen claimed they had captured the seven peacekeepers but failed to provide any evidence, the mission said.

The MONUC unit has been conducting a joint cordon-and-search operation with the FARDC in that sector since 27 May. On Sunday morning it contacted armed elements apparently belonging to Ituri warlord Peter Karim’s militia, the Front des Nationalistes and Intégrationnistes (FNI).

Twenty peacekeepers of the Nepalese battalion were transported by air to the scene of the confrontation to reinforce the troops on the ground and add to the support provided by a MI-25 combat helicopter. A mortar platoon was also transported by helicopter from Bunia to Fataki, reaching the zone on the same day at noon.

The operation is codenamed Ituri Element III. It is part of the military operations in the Ituri district to force local militias operating in the region to lay down their weapons and join the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process. To date, more than 14,000 militiamen in the region have been disarmed through that programme.

Twelve MONUC peacekeepers have died on duty since the beginning of this year.

ENDS

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