The number of dead and injured remains unknown as peacekeepers open fire on a border post in eastern Beni Territory, the UN says.
An unknown number of people were killed and several others injured after United Nations peacekeepers opened fire on a border post in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations said.
Video of the incident, shared on social media, showed men – at least one in police uniform and one in army uniform – walking towards the immobilized UN convoy from behind a closed barrier in Kasindi. The city is located in the Beni Territory of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on the border with Uganda.
After a verbal exchange, the peacekeepers appeared to open fire before opening the gate, continuing to drive and firing while people dispersed or hid.
“During this incident, soldiers from the intervention brigade of the MONUSCO force, returning from vacation, for unknown reasons opened fire on the border post and forced their way through,” the UN mission in Kasindi said in a statement on Sunday.
“This serious incident resulted in fatalities and serious injuries.”
The UN Secretary-General’s special representative in DR Congo Bintou Keita said an investigation had been launched and the suspected perpetrators arrested.
“In the face of this unspeakable and irresponsible behavior, the perpetrators of the shooting have been identified and arrested pending the completion of the investigation, which has already begun in cooperation with the Congolese authorities,” she said.
She added that contact had been made with the soldiers’ country of origin so that court proceedings could be initiated urgently. The country did not name them.
Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “outraged” by the incident and called for “accountability”. Guterres was “sad and dismayed” to learn of the shots fired by peacekeeping forces, a UN statement said.
Barthelemy Kambale Siva, the North Kivu Governor’s representative in Kasindi, said earlier that “eight people, including two police officers working at the cordon, were seriously injured” in the incident.
Siva did not tell AFP why the UN convoy was prevented from crossing the barrier.
More than 120 armed groups are operating in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1999, the UN sent an observer mission to the region for the first time.
In 2010, this became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO – the stabilization mission of the United Nations Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.
According to the UN, 230 died.
Last week deadly demonstrations took place in several cities in eastern DRC demanding the withdrawal of the UN.
A total of 19 people, including three peacekeepers, were killed.
The anger was fueled by the perception that MONUSCO was not doing enough to stop the attacks by the armed groups.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix was in the Central African country on Saturday to “talk to the Congolese authorities,” he said.
“[They would] examine how we can both avoid a repeat of these tragic incidents and, most importantly, work better together to achieve our goals,” he said.
“We hope that the conditions will be met, particularly the return of state authority, to allow MONUSCO to fulfill its mission as quickly as possible – leaving room for other forms of international support.”