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Cablegate: Monuc Reports Six Congolese Dead, Four Wounded In

VZCZCXRO7340
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1150 2681656
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251656Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6949
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001150

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS PGOV CG UG
SUBJECT: MONUC REPORTS SIX CONGOLESE DEAD, FOUR WOUNDED IN
LAKE ALBERT CONFRONTATION


1. (SBU) Summary. MONUC reports that Ugandan troops killed
six Congolese and wounded five others after firing on a
Congolese vessel on Lake Albert September 24. All but one
were civilians. The confrontation followed an incident
earlier in the day in which MONUC naval forces intercepted
and subsequently released a Heritage Oil vessel carrying five
civilians on the Congolese side of the demarcation line.
MONUC together with Congolese civil and military authorities
have opened an investigation into the incident. End summary.


2. (SBU) Troops on a Ugandan military vessel opened fire on
a civilian Congolese boat on Lake Albert north of the island
of Rukwanze on the afternoon of September 24, killing six and
wounding five, Yasmine Thiam of MONUC's Bunia office reported
September 25. Thiam cautioned that MONUC was working to
confirm details of the incident, but told us that information
received to date indicated all of those reported killed were
Congolese civilians -- including men, women and an infanat --
as were all but one of the wounded. The remaining casualty
was a member of the Congolese military's (FARDC) naval force.
Thiam said MONUC transported three seriously wounded
children for treatment in Bunia.

3. (SBU) Thiam said that a joint fact-finding mission of
MONUC, FARDC and local authorities had departed the Ituri
District capital of Bunia to investigate. She said press
reports datelined September 25 from Kampala and Kinshasa were
inaccurate. A report appearing on the web site of
Kampala-based The Monitor stated one Ugandan and one
Congolese soldier were killed following an exchange of
gunfire, while MONUC's Radio Okapi reported that 10 Congolese
had been killed and eight wounded in a Ugandan attack on a
civilian boat. Thiam said MONUC's Kampala office was working
to engage senior Ugandan officials to correct earlier reports.

4. (SBU) Thiam reported the confrontation took place at
around 1515 local time September 24 and was preceded by an
incident two hours earlier in which a Ugandan boat carrying
five civilians associated with the Canadian firm Heritage Oil
was intercepted in Congolese waters by a vessel of MONUC's
Uruguayan naval detachment. She said that MONUC prevented
Congolese forces from firing on the boat and released it to
return to Uganda after determining that its five occupants --
four Ugandans and a Kenyan -- were civilians.

5. (SBU) Thiam said after learning of the incident the
Ugandan military (UDPF) dispatched a number of soldiers in
another vessel, which confronted a Congolese boat carrying
some 50 civilians and two members of the FARDC naval force on
the Congolese side of the demarcation line. She said that
the UDPF soldiers indiscriminately opened fire when the two
navy men refused their demand to disarm. She said the
Congolese vessel was subsequently able to make its way to the
MONUC naval base at Kasenyi.

6. Comment. Much remains to be confirmed about the
incident. However, MONUC's account is evidently based on
reports of its Uruguayan contingent on the scene. It is
impossible to tell at this point how this will affect the
goodwill generated by the recent Kabila-Museveni summit in
Arusha and the Tripartite Plus meeting in Kampala, but both
sides will be focusing on damage control pending the results
of the investigation. End comment.
BROCK

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