August 29, 2013(KAMPALA) - A United Nations peace keeper was on Wednesday killed and three others wounded in fighting between M23 rebels and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) army backed by a UN brigade mandated to use force against the rebels.
The soldier, a Tanzanian national, was killed in the eastern DRC town of Goma, near the border with Rwanda, which has witnessed intense fighting for the last one week.
"I am outraged by today’s killing of a United Nations peacekeeper from Tanzania by the M23," said Martin Kobler, the head of the peace mission in Congo. "He sacrificed his life to protect civilians in Goma."
Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the UN mission in Congo known as MUNUSCO said UN soldiers and the Congolese army fought back because the M23 had been using positions near Goma to launch strikes into the city.
"The M23 has been using these positions to shell populated areas. The objective of the operation is therefore to remove the threat against Goma,” said the UN spokesman.
The UN identified as South African the three soldiers injured in Wednesday’s fighting.
In March the United Nations Security Council authorised the creation of a special brigade of 17,000 comprising of soldiers from South Africa and Tanzania with a mandate to fight the M23.
The M23 rebel is made of mostly Congolese Tutsi of Rwandan origin. The rebels were under a 2009 peace agreement made part of the DRC army but broke ranks in April last year.
The United Nations and the DRC accuses Rwanda of aiding the rebels but Rwanda denies the charge.
In a related development a Rwandan woman was on Thursday killed and her baby injured after a shell reportedly launched from Congo hit a market inside Rwanda, near the border with DRC.
Relations between the two countries has worsened in recent weeks over DRC’s accusations that Rwanda supports the rebels.
The US State Department has urged both countries not to engage in acts that will further violence which has already affected thousands in war-torn eastern DRC.