DR Congo

UN peacekeepers pursue militias in eastern DR of Congo

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said today it has deployed forces to pursue rebel militia groups in eastern South Kivu province.
Guatemalan special forces, Pakistani commandos and units of the DRC Army (FARDC), with Indian air support, were taking part in a series of raids called Operation Falcon Sweep from 4 to 11 July to establish control over the Walungu Territory, south of Bukavu, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said.

Among its aims was to "carry out effective search missions to flush out armed groups from the area," it said.

When the Pakistani Quick Reaction Forces were dropped in the Kahuzi Bega National Park area, "a large number of FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), estimated at 150-plus personnel, immediately came out of the bush" and encircled the Pakistanis, but they retreated as the MONUC forces took a defensive stance and attack helicopters arrived, the mission said.

"All MONUC forces returned to Kavumu Airbase safe and sound," it said.

Rwandan Hutu rebels have been active in the jungles of the eastern DRC since Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which they killed en estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Earlier this year, after secret negotiations in Rome, the FDLR leadership pledged that the group would lay down its weapons and return to Rwanda. MONUC chief William Lacy Swing designated six assembly and registration points for the estimated 13,000 to 15,000 Rwandan militiamen expected to want to take part in Rwanda's programme of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, re-settlement and re-integration (DDRRR).

MONUC had blamed some members of the FDLR for assaulting civilians in the eastern DRC and causing thousands to become internally displaced persons (IDPs).